Chinese driver Zhou Guanyu will race for Alfa Romeo within the 2022 Formula 1 season, the Swiss-based crew has introduced. In doing so, Zhou will develop into the primary driver from China to race within the Formula 1 world championship.
The 22-year-old presently sits second within the 2021 Formula 2 championship and had been broadly tipped to land a seat at Alfa for a number of months, with the Shanghai-born driver stated to be bringing appreciable industrial backing with him.
“I dreamed 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,” Zhou stated in an Alfa Romeo assertion on Tuesday night.
“To be the primary ever Chinese driver in Formula 1 is a breakthrough for Chinese motorsport historical past. I do know quite a lot of hopes will probably be resting on me and, as ever, I’ll take this as motivation to develop into higher and obtain extra.”
Zhou will companion 10-time Grand Prix winner Valtteri Bottas, whose transfer to Alfa from reigning champions Mercedes was introduced earlier this 12 months, Xinhua reviews. In becoming a member of Alfa, Zhou will minimize his ties with Alpine’s junior driver programme, which he had joined in 2019 with the hope of stepping as much as F1 with the French outfit.
The Chinese driver had examined extensively for Alpine in two-year outdated equipment, and took half in an F1 practise session for the primary time at this 12 months’s Austrian GP, when he took over Fernando Alonso’s automotive. However, with Alonso and fellow incumbent Esteban Ocon set to proceed racing for Alpine subsequent 12 months, Zhou was obliged to look elsewhere for a seat on the 2022 grid.
Zhou and Bottas will type an all-new lineup for Alfa Romeo subsequent 12 months, with the pair changing Antonio Giovinazzi and the retiring Kimi Raikkonen. News of Zhou’s transfer to Alfa was welcomed by many inside the F1 paddock, given the Shanghai native’s potential to boost the profile of the game within the profitable Chinese market.
“This is implausible information for F1 and the hundreds of thousands of passionate Chinese followers that now have a house hero to cheer all 12 months lengthy,” said F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali. “Zhou is an incredible talent and he will be a fantastic addition to the amazing grid we have and he will entertain and keep all our Chinese fans excited in 2022.”
Zhou admitted it “feels so unreal however thrilling” to have secured the last available seat for the 2022 F1 season. “It feels like something I’ve been longing for was finally realised. It means a lot to me.”
Born in 1999, Zhou first hit the monitor in go-karts on the age of seven. In order to pursue a greater improvement in motorsport, Zhou left his hometown of Shanghai at age 11 to review and prepare within the UK. Zhou initially joined the Ferrari Driver Academy earlier than switching to the Alpine Academy (previously the Renault Sport Academy) in 2019, when he debuted in Formula 2.
Now in his third season of F2, Zhou has been a title contender since claiming his first characteristic race win within the first spherical at Sakhir (Bahrain), together with one other characteristic race victory at Silverstone and a dash race win at Monte Carlo.
Currently 36 factors behind chief Oscar Piastri, who was introduced as Alpine’s check driver for subsequent season, second-placed Zhou nonetheless has an opportunity of profitable the F2 championship with two rounds remaining. Zhou’s present success comes off the again of a 2020 marketing campaign that he calls “by far essentially the most troublesome season for me”. Despite profitable the dash race in Sochi to take his first win within the sequence, a number of retirements as a result of mechanical failures solely led to a sixth-place end within the drivers’ standings.
“When you, as a driver, have accomplished every part proper, some uncontrollable components make you lose quite a lot of factors, particularly in such an necessary 12 months or two. It was fairly a blow. But now trying again eventually 12 months, these difficulties additionally let me develop up quite a bit, particularly within the psychological side and in my self-adjustment,” Zhou famous. “The expertise has additionally helped me to point out my power in essentially the most full manner this 12 months, so it is usually a means of progress.”
Just like this 12 months’s Haas pair of Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin, and AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda, Zhou secured sufficient Super License factors to permit him to progress into F1. “The highway to F1 may be very troublesome, all of which takes quite a lot of effort and time, which is why I personally really feel it may be price extra now than earlier than,” Zhou stated. “For Chinese drivers, the method will solely be harder, as a result of there was no information to inform me how to decide on one of the best path, so I needed to discover all the chances with my crew.”
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