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Guanyu Zhou

Zhou caught off-guard by Stake F1's Hulkenberg swoop

Zhou Guanyu has conceded he was not expecting the news that Nico Hulkenberg will be joining Stake F1, but believes the team remains an option for him and team-mate Valtteri Bottas for next season.

Zhou Japan
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Zhou Guanyu has said he was surprised at how early Nico Hulkenberg's move to Stake F1 was announced, but believes the team is still an option for him next season, despite only one seat being left available.

With the news that Hulkenberg is joining ahead of the transition to Audi in 2026, either the 24-year-old or team-mate Valtteri Bottas will be moving on, meaning an uncertain wait for one or potentially both of them, with out-going Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz also heavily linked with a move to the Swiss team.

Zhou admitted that news of Hulkenberg joining came as a surprise, with the Chinese driver not expecting it to come as early as it did.

"The whole announcement, it's a bit more early than I expected, but it doesn't really change my approach," Zhou responded to media including RacingNews365 when Nico Hulkenberg joining Stake F1 for 2025 was brought up.

"I just try to focus on my job with the current team, to prove myself and give it everything I have, for my future. Of course, we're looking at different options, to see what was the best."

"We didn't really get much involvement with Nico [Hulkenberg], so I can't really say much about the other seat available for this team. All I can say is I think Andreas Seidl is looking at all different options, including me and Valtteri [Bottas]. Of course, here [Stake F1] is a place that can be possible for the future, for next year."

Alpine an option for Zhou?

Zhou narrowly missed out on his first points of the season at the previous race, the Chinese Grand Prix. Having qualified in the top 10 for the sprint at his home event, he crossed the line in ninth, one place outside the points-paying positions.

That weekend in Shanghai highlighted how lucrative he is as a commercial prospect to teams, with the Stake driver saying he "feels comfortable enough to stay on the grid next year" when asked about his options.

As a former Renault junior, one mooted option has been a return to Alpine, if either Esteban Ocon or Pierre Gasly look for opportunities elsewhere.

"I left Renault not in a way that we fell out - I think it was quite smooth," he said when asked about the French team.

"There was only one seat available at the time, at Sauber-Alfa Romeo, so they released me. And that was the end of my contract as an academy driver, because they couldn't really promote me to Formula 1.

"I think the relationship is still there, and in terms of opportunities, I think there is, but how much? I'm not sure - it's too early to say. But of course, I'm looking and seeing where works out the best for me."

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