Guanyu Zhou has become the first Chinese Formula 1 driver after signing the Alfa Romeo race in 2022.
Alfa Romeo described the predecessor of Formula 2 as “the publisher. Who will write the most important page in the history of his automotive world”.
Guanyu Zhou 22, will be working with Valtteri Bottas. Who signed for Mercedes after veteran Kimi Raikkonen decided to resign this year.
He replaces Antonio Giovinazzi. Who has been running for Alpha since 2019 but now has no place in the F1 grid next year.
Guanyu Zhou , who is second in the F2 tournament. That has won three times this season. And the remaining two rounds next month, said:
“I feel well prepared for the great Formula 1 challenge. The essence of my game, and the proven and world-class talent at Valtteri Bottas.”
The move means all F1 teams have approved the 2022 driver list.
Why did Alpha sign Guanyu Zhou ?
Zhou has been part of the Ferrari driving school since 2014-18, and moved to the Renault junior stable in 2019. He has been a test pilot for the French company’s F1 team for the past two years.
He will take with you to Alfa Romeo a huge package that is said to cost millions of pounds.
The club’s principal Frederic Vasseur admitted in an exclusive interview. With BBC Sport that this was the reason for Guanyu Zhou signing, saying: “The financial side cannot be hidden.”
But he said Zhou’s talent was also highly regarded.
Vasseur pointed to his F2 victories in Bahrain. And Silverstone this year as proof of his “ability” to compete at the highest level.
“I don’t know if he will eventually become a champion at F2,” Vasseur said. “But that will not change his ability to compete with other experienced boys.
“He also had the chance that he was able to do. Some test dates this season on F1 so he doesn’t have zero mileage.”
Vasseur, who previously managed the successful ART team. In the junior divisions, said he had been watching Guanyu Zhou . Development for some years.
“In China, it does not make sense to bring someone when a boy is not [at work]. They want to succeed,” Vasseur said.
“At the beginning of the story on F3, we said: ‘Maybe this one could be [the F1 driver].’ He then won some races at F3 Euroseries before moving on to F2, and did well.
“The most important thing for me is that he is a smart guy because he is always improving year after year, doing a better job and covering everything.”
Zhou brings great financial improvement
Vasseur said the extra money Guanyu Zhou brought to Alfa Romeo would mean the club would be able to operate at the cost of F1 next season – their budget is “huge” below $ 145m (£ 114m) this year, he said.
“Ultimately, our sponsors also want to be happy and enhance their commitment to the future, and the financial side will not be hidden,” Vasseur said.
“The first Chinese driver on F1 – is good news for us, the company, our sponsors and F1 in general.
“The party must be stable at the same time, not only in terms of Chinese sponsors, but in terms of the exposure we will give to our current partners.
“F1 today is a bit difficult. If you are not in the top two and Ferrari, the exposure is very small and this is probably the best way we will need to increase the level of exposure.”
Why did Alfa Romeo choose Bottas as party leader?
Bottas was signed in early September, after Mercedes decided to sign George Russell as Lewis Hamilton’s teammate next season.
Vasseur said talks with Finn, who drove the Frenchman into the lower divisions before playing his first F1 game against Williams in 2013, began earlier this season.
“We always maintained a very good relationship, and at the beginning of the season we were in one hotel and talked about it the other evening,” Vasseur said. “I said, ‘Well, if one day you want a party, Valtteri, I’ll be there.’
“We started the conversation like this and moved on step by step. We have a strong personal relationship and I knew you were in a difficult situation.
“OK, Mercedes is probably the best grid team and being part of a team is the dream of 18 drivers on the grid today.
“But it was not an easy situation and he was trying to make the next phase [of his work] the backbone of the project and this is what we discussed from the beginning.
“We said: ‘Well, if we want to do better as a team, we need to improve the project about the driver.’ It was always the case with successful stories – with [Sebastian] Vettel at Red Bull or [Fernando] Alonso at Renault or [Michael] Schumacher at Ferrari or Lewis [Hamilton] – trying to build something closer to someone and it was a project with Valtteri. “
Vasseur said Bottas’ position as a leading driver would give the team a boost as the F1 enters a major change of rules this winter, with new cars aimed at closing the grid and making the race more competitive.
Alfa’s tough season
Alfa Romeo is the ninth team in the builders’ competition with three races to go, but their performance is very different from racing – Giovinazzi finished seventh and 10th in the Netherlands and Italy at the beginning of September, for example, but was 18th in the next two races in Russia. and Turkey.
Vasseur said he “could not blame the drivers more than anything else” for the team’s poor performance.
Guanyu Zhou emphasized that midfielders are close to the way they play so small details such as driver’s mistakes, team errors or other things can make a big difference.
He also pointed out that the Alfa Romeo had never installed new parts of the car since the third or fourth race of the season, that their Ferrari engine lacks efficiency compared to the rivals Mercedes, Honda and Renau.