Alfa Romeo to confirm Valtteri Bottas’ 2022 team-mate this week as final grid spot filled

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Alfa Romeo are set to confirm Guanyu Zhou as Valtteri Bottas’ teammate for the 2022 season. Bottas will join the team after finishing his title charge with Mercedes, who are hoping to win their eighth consecutive constructors’ title as they battle with Red Bull.

The Finn is a fine replacement for Kimi Raikkonen as the 2007 world champion announced he will retire at the end of the season.

There have been questions surrounding who will partner Bottas at the Sauber-run team, as they are yet to confirm the future of Antonio Giovinazzi.

However, it appears the Italian’s days are numbered with team principal Frederic Vasseur announcing the identity of Bottas’ partner will be revealed next week before the Qatar Grand Prix.

Reports from Interlagos believe Zhou is set to become the first Chinese driver in F1 history. 

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The 22-year-old is currently second in the Formula 2 standings behind Oscar Piastri, although Zhou’s reported £22million in financial backing is undoubtedly attractive. 

DAZN in Spain has reported there is a three-year deal on the table, and a photo of Zhou on an Alfa Romeo dealership in Shanghai has surfaced along with an accompanying exclamation: “Guanyu Zhou joins the Alfa Romeo team!”

The advertisement continues: “China’s first F1 driver. 

“Come on China, come on Alfa Romeo, come on Guanyu Zhou!”

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Red Bull boss Helmut Marko believes Alfa Romeo could be more competitive next season as they overhaul key components of their F1 operation.

“With great equipment, a modern wind tunnel and now a good budget, Alfa Romeo should actually move forward in 2022,” Marko told Blick. 

“With Bottas, they have a very experienced guy and Zhou has shown for three years in Formula 2 that he is ready for more important tasks.”

La Gazetta dello Sport claimed Giovinazzi was informed of the decision to replace him with Zhou at the Mexican Grand Prix.

Upon learning of the news, the 27-year-old was furious and his relationship with team management has allegedly broken down. 

“We explained the strategy to Antonio which was a shame for everyone – a mistake,” Alfa Romeo boss Vasseur admitted. 

“But we are 500 employees and no one makes mistakes on purpose to damage Kimi or Antonio, and to think that is ungenerous to the team.”

Formula 1 travels to the Losail Circuit for the Qatar Grand Prix on November 21, with Red Bull star Max Verstappen holding a 14-point lead over Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton.

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