Alfa Romeo team boss Fred Vasseur says there is no precipitation on the part of the Hinwil squad to decide Zhou Guanyu's F1 future although it is likely to reach a decision by the end of the month.
Although Zhou has only scored two top-ten finishes this season - in Bahrain and in Canada - the young Chinese rookie has acquitted himself overall, having also suffered several reliability setbacks during his maiden campaign.
Zhou has been outperformed by veteran F1 teammate Valtteri Bottas, which was not to unexpected. But Vasseur insists that assessing a young rookie "isn't just a matter of pace".
"You have a lot of things to learn in F1 and a lot of different pressures than F2 and F3 before and they have to discover this world," Vasseur explained last weekend at Zandvoort.
"And Zhou did it perfectly. He has also a very good collaboration with the team, with everybody. He is very committed and he’s doing a good job, but the time for the decision will be soon."
Vasseur made clear that Alfa's decision won't hinge on Zhou's performance in the next few races.
"It’s not what [Zhou] has to do until the decision, that it’s a long process, that we are doing a good season for the team and Zhou is doing a good job," said the Frenchman.
"But as I said before, and as we decided before, we will take a decision by the end of September and we have to stay calm on this."
Looking at Alfa's current track record in 2023, after a strong start to its season, the team – and particularly Bottas – has failed to score points in any of the last six races.
Vasseur owned up to the dry spell, pointing to the poor reliability of the team's C42 but also, sarcastically, to a factor called Nicholas Latifi!
"We had DNFs, but the DNF has nothing to do with luck or bad luck and sometimes it’s a technical issue, sometimes it was an engine issue, sometimes it was Latifi, but it is like it is!
"It’s nothing to do with bad luck.
"Now in terms of pace, I think we did probably a step down compared to the beginning of the season, but we knew perfectly we don’t have the same budget as the top teams and we won’t be able to develop the car as they are doing.
"But we are still in the good group to score points.
"I think at Spa or Budapest, we were P8 or P7 in qualifying and at Spa, we were in a good position in qualy before to give up the lap.
"I think we are there but it’s so tight between P6, P7 on the grid and P18 that everything can happen and we will have to take the opportunity when the opportunities will be there.
"It’s always the same story."