F2 star Zhou Guanyu is set to become the first Chinese race car driver to ever compete in Formula One, the highest class of international auto racing for single-seater formula cars.
China’s first: Alfa Romeo Racing announced that it signed the 22-year-old, who is confirmed to replace Italian Antonio Giovinazzi in the team’s roster for the 2022 season, the Guardian reported.
- Zhou will be partnered with 32-year-old Finnish racer Valtteri Bottas, who is ending his contract with Mercedes this season.
- In a statement, Alfa Romeo dubbed Zhou as “a trailblazer who will write a pivotal page of his country’s motorsport history.”
- “To be the first-ever Chinese driver in Formula One is a breakthrough for Chinese motorsport history,” Zhou was quoted as saying. “I know a lot of hopes will be resting on me and, as ever, I will take this as motivation to become better and achieve more.”
- Prior to Zhou, the only Chinese man to have ever driven an official F1 car was Ma Quinghua, who participated in five practice sessions for HRT in 2012 and Caterham in 2013.
The road to F1: Zhou, who is currently competing in his third season in F2, said reaching F1 is a fulfillment of a childhood dream.
- Born in Shanghai in 1999, Zhou started racing at 8 years old when he participated in kart races.
- In 2015, Zhou competed in the Italian F4 Championship and ADAC Formula 4 with Prema Racing, marking the start of his single-seater career. He spent three seasons in European F3 before advancing to F2.
- After being a member of the Ferrari academy from 2014 to 2018, Zhou joined the Alpine (formerly Renault) academy in 2019 and became its test driver a year later.
- In the current F2 season, Zhou remains in second place behind Oscar Piastri, with two more events in the Middle East to compete in this December.
Zhou will first see action as an F1 racer at the 2022 Formula One World Championship, which begins with the Bahrain Grand Prix in March 2022.
Featured Image via Formula 1