French F1 reporter Fred Ferret has tipped Zhou Guanyu to make a return to Alpine in place of Esteban Ocon for 2025.

Alpine have at least one vacancy for 2025 after Ocon’s departure was announced on Monday ahead of the Canadian Grand Prix.

Pierre Gasly is expected to remain with the team, although the identity of his teammate is still unclear.

Alpine have a couple of internal options available to them in Jack Doohan (their reserve driver) and Mick Schumacher (who races for them in WEC).

Externally, Valtteri Bottas has been linked, as has his teammate, Zhou.

Zhou was part of the Renault fold before joining Sauber at the start of 2022.

On the latest episode of the F1 Nation podcast, Ferret explained why Zhou to Alpine “makes sense”.

“What about Zhou? Who will be out of a seat,” he said. “We know that Geely is very close to Renault. Gelly is a car manufacturer of China which is very close to Renault in France.

“They signed a deal one year ago. It would make sense to have a Chinese driver, even if it’s a French team, who is related to a Chinese manufacturer.

“I think Zhou makes sense alongside Pierre.”

Zhou Guanyu (CHN) Sauber C44. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 8, Monaco Grand Prix, Monte Carlo, Monaco, Qualifying

Zhou Guanyu (CHN) Sauber C44. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 8, Monaco…

F1 Nation podcast host Tom Clarkson feels that Zhou “ticks a lot of boxes” and his prior links to Alpine make him a realistic candidate.

“I think the team will want to retain Pierre,” Clarkson added. “Zhou actually ticks a lot of boxes because he was part of the Alpine young driver programme and they want to prove, particularly after everything that happened with Oscar Piastri there’s actually a way through to the F1 team.

“He did an FP1 in Austria 2021 was the first time he appeared at a race weekend. That was in an Alpine so he’s got all the links, he’s got the link to Geely as you say. I wonder if Zhou actually is in pole position to replace Esteban.

“Zhou and Gasly. I think it is not a bad line up.”