Aussie's F1 hopes dented by fresh $2.1 trillion hurdle

Jack Doohan's long-awaited F1 debut is under threat after an out-of-contract rival was linked with a move to his Alpine squad.

When Esteban Ocon's exit from the Enstone team was confirmed earlier this month, the Aussie shot to the top of the list of potential replacements.

But ahead of this weekend's Spanish Grand Prix, Zhou Guanyu – who has yet to re-sign for the Sauber team – has been linked with an Alpine switch.

Veteran F1 journalist Craig Slater said signing Zhou would make sense from a commercial point of view, as the French brand looks to enter the Chinese market.

aussie's f1 hopes dented by fresh $2.1 trillion hurdle

Jack Doohan's mooted F1 debut for Alpine could be under threat.

Alpine is the performance arm of the partially French state-owned Renault brand.

According to Statista, the automotive industry in China made up about 11 per cent of the country's GDP in 2021 - about $2.1 trillion.

Like Doohan, Zhou was also a member of Alpine's junior driver academy.

"There's this little clutch of drivers who are available and on the market at the moment," Slater said on Sky Sports F1.

"Carlos Sainz has had talks with Alpine, but I'm told that's a no go. Valtteri Bottas has also had some discussions with Alpine, but those talks did not progress.

"What about Mick Schumacher? He is driving in endurance racing for the team. I'm told he is down the pecking order in terms of getting a Formula 1 race seat for them next year.

"One name which keeps coming back is Zhou Guanyu.

"There's also some commercial reasons why he might be desirable for (Alpine). For a start, it exposes Alpine to the enormous Chinese market, which is the biggest automobile market in the world.

aussie's f1 hopes dented by fresh $2.1 trillion hurdle

Zhou Guanyu has been linked with a move to Alpine.

"There has also been a recent car alliance between Renault, which is Alpine's parent company, and [Chinese company] Geely.

"That could be a big factor."

But should Zhou be signed, there might still be room for a Doohan promotion given the team's other driver, Pierre Gasly, is yet to re-sign with the squad.

Much of the movement in the driver market is expected to be triggered by confirmation from Carlos Sainz of where he'll drive in 2025.

The three-time grand prix winner will be ousted from his Ferrari seat at the end of the season to make way for Lewis Hamilton.

Sainz seems most likely to join Alex Albon at Williams, although is still a chance to end up at the struggling Sauber outfit, which will morph into a factory Audi outfit for 2026.

Doohan is Alpine's reserve driver this season.

The F1 season continues at the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona this weekend. The race will get underway at 11pm Sunday.

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