Guanyu Zhou is the first driver signed to an F1 team from China, after signing a contract with Alfa Romeo ahead of 2019. The Formula 1 race season kicked off on Sunday in Melbourne, Australia and will run until November 26th.
Guanyu Zhou is a Chinese driver who has just signed for Alfa Romeo. He became the first Chinese driver in Formula 1 history after signing with the Italian team.
Zhou has three F2 victories this season and is now second in the standings with one round remaining.
Guanyu Zhou has signed a contract to compete for Alfa Romeo in 2022, making him the first Chinese driver in Formula One.
The Formula 2 leader was touted by Alfa Romeo as a “trailblazer who will write a vital page in his country’s racing history.”
Valtteri Bottas, who was hired from Mercedes after veteran Kimi Raikkonen chose to retire this year, will be Zhou’s teammate.
He takes the position of Antonio Giovinazzi, who has raced for Alfa since 2019 but will not be competing in Formula One next year.
“I dreamed of reaching as far as I can in a sport that I am passionate about from a young age, and now the dream has come true,” Zhou, who is second in the F2 championship with three victories this season and two rounds left next month, said.
“I am fully prepared for the enormous task of Formula 1, the summit of my sport, with Valtteri Bottas, a proven, world-class talent.”
As a result of the change, all F1 teams have announced their driver lineups for 2022.
What is the significance of Alfa’s signing of Zhou?
Zhou was a member of Ferrari’s driving school from 2014 to 2018, before joining Renault’s young driver program in 2019. For the last two years, he has been a test driver for the French company’s Formula One team.
He’ll bring a substantial cash package to Alfa Romeo, estimated to be worth millions of pounds.
In an exclusive interview with Sport, team head Frederic Vasseur confirmed that this was a factor in hiring Zhou, adding, “The money aspect can’t be disguised.”
However, he said that Zhou’s skill was also a factor.
Vasseur cited his F2 triumphs this year in Bahrain and Silverstone as proof that he “had the potential” to fight at the top level.
“I’m not sure whether he’ll be a champion in F2 in the end,” Vasseur stated. “However, this will not affect the fact that he has the potential to be a frontrunner against some very seasoned competitors.”
“He also has the benefit of having been able to perform some test days in F1 this season, so he isn’t starting from scratch.”
Vasseur, who previously led the successful ART junior squad, said he has been following Zhou’s development for many years.
“It’s pointless to send someone to China if the person isn’t available [on stage]. They want to achieve achievement “Vasseur said.
“When he was first introduced in F3, we speculated, ‘Perhaps this one is a future [F1 driver].’ After that, he won a few races in the F3 Euroseries before moving up to F2, where he performed well.
“For me, the most essential thing is that he is a brilliant man because he is constantly improving, always doing a better job, and bringing everything together.”
Zhou provides a substantial cash boost.
According to Vasseur, the additional revenue Zhou provides to Alfa Romeo will allow the team to function under F1’s cost limit next season, since their budget is “massively” below the $145 million (£114 million) mark this year.
“At the end of the day, our sponsors want to be satisfied and continue their commitment to the future, and the financial part can’t be disguised,” Vasseur said.
“Being the first Chinese driver in Formula One is huge news for us, the business, our sponsors, and F1 in general.”
“At some point, a team must become self-sustaining. It’s not only about the Chinese sponsors; it’s also about the visibility we’ll provide our present partners.
“Today’s Formula One is a challenge. If you are not in the top two plus Ferrari, your exposure is really low, and this is most likely the only way we will be able to rise up the exposure classification.”
Why did Alfa Romeo choose Bottas to run the team?
After Mercedes opted to recruit George Russell as Lewis Hamilton’s teammate for next season, Bottas was signed in early September.
Conversations with the Finn, who raced for Vasseur in junior categories before making his F1 debut with Williams in 2013, started at the start of this season, according to Vasseur.
“We always had a wonderful connection,” Vasseur added. “We were in the same hotel early in the season and we talked it together one evening.” “I told him, ‘OK, if you need a team one day, Valtteri, I’ll be there.’
“We began the conversation this way and worked our way forward.” I knew he was in a difficult circumstance since we had a great personal bond.
“OK, Mercedes is undoubtedly the greatest team on the circuit, and becoming a member of the team is the dream of 18 drivers on the grid right now.
“But it wasn’t an easy circumstance, and he was wanting to go to the next step [of his career] by being key to a project, which was something we spoke about from the start.”
“‘OK, if we want to progress as a team, we need to build the project around a driver,’ we said. It was always the case with successful stories – whether it was [Sebastian] Vettel at Red Bull, [Fernando] Alonso at Renault, [Michael] Schumacher at Ferrari, or Lewis [Hamilton] – to try to build something up around someone, and that was the situation with Valtteri.”
Bottas’ standing as a top driver, according to Vasseur, will serve as a yardstick for the team as F1 prepares for a significant regulatory change this winter, with new vehicles aimed at tightening the field and making racing more competitive.
The challenging season for Alfa Romeo
With three races remaining in the constructors’ championship, Alfa Romeo is ninth out of ten teams, but their results have varied dramatically from race to race – Giovinazzi qualified seventh and tenth in the Netherlands and Italy in early September, for example, but was 18th on the grid in the next two races in Russia and Turkey.
For the team’s erratic performance, Vasseur claimed he “won’t blame the drivers more than anything else.”
He stressed that since the middle group is so close in terms of performance, tiny nuances, such as driver faults, team errors, or other circumstances, may make a significant difference.
He also noted that Alfa Romeo had not installed any new parts on the car since the third or fourth race of the season, that their Ferrari engine lags behind rival powertrains from Mercedes, Honda, and Renault, and that, unlike their competitors, Alfa has not been penalized for using more than the allowed number of engines.
Alfa has not profited from Ferrari’s more powerful hybrid system, which was deployed for the last third of the season, since they are still running the engine in the same configuration as it began the year.
“One year ago, we made a choice,” Vasseur added. “It is, in my opinion, a wise option for the future. It was difficult in 2021 because we knew that if we didn’t progress over the season, we would die. But this placed a lot of strain on the crew and track operations, which I believe they handled well.”
Guanyu Zhou has become the first Chinese driver to sign for a Formula 1 team after signing with Alfa Romeo. Reference: guanyu zhou parents.
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