China’s first and only Formula One driver Guanyu Zhou will remain with Alfa Romeo next season after the Swiss-based team announced a contract extension on Tuesday.
Zhou, 23, made his F1 debut this year and has scored six points from 16 races, compared with 46 for Finnish team mate Valtteri Bottas.
The announcement was expected and provided another boost for Chinese fans a week after Formula One published a record 24 race calendar for 2023 with the Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai scheduled to return for the first time since 2019.
“From day one with the team, at the Abu Dhabi test last year, he has impressed me with his approach to work and this is always a very positive trait,” said team boss Frederic Vasseur in a statement.
“We knew he was quick, but the way he adapted to Formula One in such a short time has been one of the best surprises of our season. He is a very nice guy, everyone in the team likes both his personality and attitude.
“He has had the humility to ask questions and learn, from the engineers as well as Valtteri, and the intelligence to apply all the information he got to improve race after race.”
Zhou’s confirmation leaves less than a handful of seats still potentially open on the 2023 grid, with Australian Daniel Ricciardo among those still looking after his split with McLaren.
Fourth-placed Alpine, needing to replace double world champion Fernando Alonso, have a vacancy while Williams are looking for a team mate to Thai racer Alex Albon and Haas are yet to decide Mick Schumacher’s fate.
Zhou, who scored points on his debut in Bahrain in March and had a big crash at Silverstone in July, said reaching Formula One had been a dream come true and he looked forward to the next chapter and fighting for more points.
“The hard work we have put together since the start of the year is just the first step towards where we want to be next season,” he said.