Guanyu Zhou will turn out to be China’s first ever Formula One driver after Alfa Romeo introduced on Tuesday the 22-year-old would drive for the staff subsequent season.
Zhou has been making waves in Formula Two and replaces Antonio Giovinazzi alongside Valtteri Bottas, who’s transferring from Mercedes to interchange the retiring Kimi Raikkonen.
“To be the primary ever Chinese driver in Formula 1 is a breakthrough for Chinese motorsport historical past,” mentioned Zhou.
“I do know a number of hopes might be resting on me and, as ever, I’ll take this as motivation to turn out to be 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 govt Stefano Domenicali mentioned the arrival of the primary driver from China was “unbelievable”.
“The information Guanyu Zhou might be in F1 subsequent season is unbelievable for the game and the thousands and thousands of passionate Chinese followers that now have a house hero to cheer all 12 months lengthy,” he tweeted.
The nation of 1.four billion which hosted its first grand prix in Zhou’s residence 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 Grand Prix in 2020 and this 12 months with the race returning to the calendar in 2022 when there isn’t a doubt who the locals might be rooting for.
Zhou has already had a style in motorsport’s quick lane as a check driver for the F1 Alpine staff in 2020/21 and took half in his first free follow 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 captivated with and now the dream has come true,” Alfa Romeo quoted Zhou, who was educated in Britain, as saying.
“It is a privilege for me to begin my Formula 1 racing profession with an iconic staff, a staff that has launched a lot younger expertise into Formula 1 previously. 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. Last 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 staff principal Frederic Vasseur mentioned he believed Zhou would set up “a really profitable partnership with Valtteri.
“I do know each of them properly and I’m completely satisfied the mixture will work properly.”
As properly because the arrival of “a really gifted driver” Vasseur welcomed “all the new Chinese fans who will join the team”.
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 advised F1.com that Zhou “has all the things to achieve success in Formula 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 is rarely straightforward, particularly so within the case of Antonio, who has been a part of the staff for therefore lengthy,” mentioned Vasseur.
In three seasons with the Swiss-based staff 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 staff ninth within the constructors’ championship, forward of Haas who haven’t scored a single level.
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