Alfa Romeo Signal ‘Trailblazer’ Guanyu Zhou, China’s First F1 Driver
Guanyu Zhou will develop into China’s first ever System One driver after Alfa Romeo introduced on Tuesday the 22-year-old would drive for the group subsequent season.
Zhou has been making waves in System Two and replaces Antonio Giovinazzi alongside Valtteri Bottas, who’s transferring from Mercedes to exchange the retiring Kimi Raikkonen.
“To be the primary ever Chinese language driver in System 1 is a breakthrough for Chinese language motorsport historical past,” mentioned Zhou.
“I do know quite a lot of hopes shall be resting on me and, as ever, I’ll take this as motivation to develop into higher and obtain extra.”
Alfa Romeo described their new signing as “a trailblazer who will write a pivotal web page of his nation’s motorsport historical past”.
F1 chief government Stefano Domenicali mentioned the arrival of the primary driver from China was “implausible”.
“The information Guanyu Zhou shall be in F1 subsequent season is implausible for the game and the tens of millions of passionate Chinese language followers that now have a house hero to cheer all 12 months lengthy,” he tweeted.
The nation of 1.4 billion which hosted its first grand prix in Zhou’s dwelling metropolis of Shanghai in 2004 represents an enormous marketplace for F1 and constructors like Alfa Romeo.
The Covid-19 pandemic put paid to the Chinese language Grand Prix in 2020 and this 12 months with the race returning to the calendar in 2022 when there is no such thing as a doubt who the locals shall be rooting for.
Zhou has already had a style in motorsport’s quick lane as a check driver for the F1 Alpine group in 2020/21 and took half in his first free observe session at this 12 months’s Austrian Grand Prix.
‘Dream come true’
“I dreamt from a younger age of climbing as excessive as I can in a sport that I’m obsessed with and now the dream has come true,” Alfa Romeo quoted Zhou, who was educated in Britain, as saying.
“It’s a privilege for me to start out my System 1 racing profession with an iconic group, a group that has launched a lot younger expertise into System 1 prior to now. Now the dream is actuality.”
Zhou has loved a breakthrough 12 months in F2, and is mendacity second and difficult for the title with races in Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi to come back.
His journey to F1 started in 2012 when he arrived in England to compete on the karting circuit.
In 2019 He was named greatest rookie in F2, coming in seventh. Final 12 months he completed sixth after claiming his debut win.
This time period he has 36 factors to make up on title chief Oscar Piastri because the season reaches its conclusion.
Alfa Romeo group principal Frederic Vasseur mentioned he believed Zhou would set up “a really profitable partnership with Valtteri.
“I do know each of them nicely and I’m completely satisfied the mixture will work nicely.”
In addition to the arrival of “a really gifted driver” Vasseur welcomed “all the brand new Chinese language followers who will be a part of the group”.
Zhou’s promotion got here as Alfa Romeo introduced that Giovinazzi would go away on the finish of the 2021 championship in December.
Vasseur later instructed F1.com that Zhou “has every little thing to achieve success in System One” and whereas it had been a tricky name to ditch Italian driver Giovinazzi the timing was proper with new rules coming in subsequent season.
“Saying goodbye to a driver isn’t simple, particularly so within the case of Antonio, who has been a part of the group for thus lengthy,” mentioned Vasseur.
In three seasons with the Swiss-based group Giovinazzi’s greatest end is fifth place within the 2019 Brazil Grand Prix.
He has one level to his title this time period with three races to come back.
Raikkonen is on 10 factors to go away the Swiss-based group ninth within the constructors’ championship, forward of Haas who haven’t scored a single level.
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