The number of available Formula 1 driver spots for the 2024 lineup is now down to three.
Alfa Romeo confirmed on Thursday that they are retaining their current lineup for the 2024 season. While Valtteri Bottas was already under contract through the 2024 campaign, there was growing debate about the future of his teammate, Zhou Guanyu. Zhou’s contract was set to expire at the end of 2023, but the team announced on Thursday ahead of the Singapore Grand Prix that he too would be back for the 2024 season.
“The decision to continue our journey with our driver line-up unchanged is testament to the investment we have made in our project. Nothing in Formula One changes overnight, and we have taken a conscious decision to focus on stability and to keep building our team up together as we embark on an important period of transition,” said Team Representative Alessandro Alunni Bravi. “Valtteri and Zhou are drivers of known talent and skill and they work really well together: they are well-matched and can push each other.”
As Alunni Bravi notes, next season the team will race under a new brand as their six-year deal with Alfa Romeo runs out at the end of 2023. Their identity for the next two years remains unknown, but they will evolve into the Audi factory team for the 2026 season.
“Zhou has made impressive steps forward in the last two years and we expect him to continue on this trajectory in 2024,” continued Alunni Bravi.
“Signing again with the team is always a great feeling, especially when we know how things are shaping up. I am proud to be part of Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake and grateful for their trust: I have been working extremely hard since day one and there is an incredible level of motivation to keep doing so every day forward,” noted Zhou. “My relationship with Valtteri is really good, and we are working closely together and with the team to push everyone forward.”
The new deal for Zhou means he will finally get a chance to race at home in F1. During his first two seasons on the grid, COVID-19 has led to the cancellation of the Chinese Grand Prix. That event remains on the calendar for 2024, and race officials hope to finally see the grid return to Shanghai.
“I am also very excited about the opportunity to finally race with my team in China, in front of my home crowd,” added Zhou. “It will be a great moment and I’m proud to be able to share it with all those who have supported me.”
Zhou has scored just four points on the season, a pair of ninth-place finishes at the Spanish Grand Prix and the Australian Grand Prix. His best start this season came at the Hungarian Grand Prix when he rolled off the line in P5, but a bad start in that race shuffled him back through the field and he managed just a 16th-place finish.
His best F1 result came in the 2022 Canadian Grand Prix, when he finished eighth, just behind Bottas who came in seventh.
The announcement leaves just three unconfirmed seats for the 2024 season: The second seat at Williams alongside Alexander Albon, and the two seats at AlphaTauri. Logan Sargeant currently occupies that second seat at Williams, and Team Principal James Vowles has outlined what F1’s lone American driver needs to do to stay there.
As for Red Bull’s junior team, there are currently three drivers — Daniel Ricciardo, Liam Lawson, and Yuki Tsunoda — vying for those two spots.