Alpine junior Zhou now favourite for Alfa Romeo seat in 2022

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Alpine junior Guanyu Zhou has emerged as the new favourite to take the second seat at Alfa Romeo in 2022.

The Chinese driver made his Formula 1 debut earlier this year, replacing Fernando Alonso in Practice 1 in Austria, and currently sits second in the F2 championship.

But while Zhou is talented, a report in Spain claims he would also come with $30m in sponsorship from his homeland, and that could be the factor in his favour over the likes of Mercedes-backed Nyck De Vries, who was previously tipped to get the seat.

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Alfa Romeo does have their own talented youngster in Frenchman Theo Pourchaire, who has made an impact in his first year of F2 in 2021.

But having only turned 18 at the end of last month, team boss Fred Vasseur doesn't want to rush him into the F1 seat too soon.

Then there's also the current second driver Antonio Giovinazzi, who impressed by qualifying seventh at Zandvoort last weekend before dropping back to P14 on race day.

large 2021 British Grand Prix Thursday

Commenting on the decision via RaceFans, Vasseur did hint the outcome of F2 will be a key factor.

“By the end of September we’ll have a good picture of the junior series,” he said.

“Antonio is part of the family, he did some good steps. I think we are not in a rush to take a decision if you have a look at the global picture.

“I want to be focused on what we are doing, to give them time to show what they can do, all of them, and we will make a decision probably at the beginning of October.”

Alfa Romeo has already confirmed one new driver for 2022, with Valtteri Bottas joining from Mercedes to replace the retiring Kimi Raikkonen.