Big changes are on the horizon for the Sauber Formula 1 team, which currently operate under the Alfa Romeo badge.
The Swiss-based team currently have no technical support from a car manufacturer, but this will change when the team is gradually morphed into Audi, who announced their investment into the team in 2022.
The team made a key signing with Andreas Seidl during the Formula 1 off-season, and now the squad is preparing to grow and mould itself into a team capable of eventually challenging the F1 frontrunners.
There are several names already linked with the long-term Audi project, which will eventually increase the pressure on current drivers Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu.
Speaking in an exclusive interview, Zhou insists that his primary focus is on his own personal development, rather than the potential future with Audi: "I am mainly trying to improve myself as a driver right now."
"I still have a long way to go, but compared to last year I have definitely improved myself. The most important thing now is to stay as consistent as possible. You have to try to get the maximum out each time, that's the most important thing.
"Right now we are not thinking about next year yet, but I am happy to be here and racing for the team. I work here with good people, with people who also know me. That helps, because they know how you race."
With Audi setting their sights on becoming the full 'works' operation for 2026, Zhou, who is now in his sophomore season in Formula 1, insists that the team is not merely waiting around for the evolution to happen.
"The team has clear goals in mind before the team turns into Audi in 2026," he added.
"We must also perform well this year. Looking ahead, things are looking good because the team will become a factory team. That is good for the future of the team and the employees within the team. They are therefore extra motivated now."
The interview continues below the photo.
Like every other team, Alfa Romeo, or the Audi of the future, hopes to make big leaps forward like Aston Martin managed in 2023.
Although Zhou would also love to make that step with his team, he realises that won't happen overnight.
"Aston Martin has done a great job and of course that is what we want to do as well," said Zhou.
"They are now easily among the best three teams on the grid. So, we now have to keep working extremely hard and try to get back to where we were last year as soon as possible."
Zhou, however, remains very realistic about the development process of the current C43 car, but hopes the development of himself and the team will finally give his home fans something to cheer for when the Chinese Grand Prix officially returns.
"The fans in China are excited for another Grand Prix in their own country. They are happy to see me driving as the first Chinese F1 driver, they continue to follow me faithfully and I hope I can make them proud."
Despite the Chinese F1 fanbase not being able to watch the Drive to Survive Netflix series, Zhou believes that their audience is interested in the F1 'personalities' just as much as the sporting element, which he believes will be a big factor when the Chinese GP returns.
"I think the, let's say, 'new' Formula One fans in China looks very much at who you are, at your personality. Gradually they also learn more and more about racing. On the contrary, the old fan is more focused on the racing and only then looks at who you are. I must say it doesn't matter to me, it's both okay of course. Most of all I hope to race in front of my own crowd next year."