Updated: Feb 28, 2022
Alfa Romeo Racing have recently confirmed that current Formula 2 driver, Guanyu Zhou, will be joining the team in 2022 alongside Valtteri Bottas, becoming Formula one’s first ever Chinese driver. More interestingly, he’s been picked over the likes of his F2 teammate, Oscar Piastri, and current Ferrari reserve driver, Callum Ilott.
Written by Janvi Unni, edited by Harshi Vashee
Some have argued that the only reason Zhou was even considered for the Alfa Romeo seat was because he brings in money from Chinese sponsors and a smaller team like Alfa Romeo needs as much funding as they can get. But it’s unfair to say that it’s the only reason they signed him because he’s had a pretty solid career so far.
Guanyu Zhou was the runner-up in the Italian F4 Championship in 2015. After that, he spent 3 seasons in Formula 3 with Motopark and then Prema, where he finished 8th in the standings in his final year with 3 pole positions and 2 wins.
In 2019, Zhou moved up the motorsport ladder to Formula 2 with UNI-Virtuosi Racing. That year he finished 7th in the standings and was awarded the Anthoine Hubert Award for being the highest-finishing rookie. In 2020, he had a better season, finishing 6th in the standings with 6 podiums. He was also promoted to Renault F1 Team’s test driver.
In 2021, Guanyu Zhou has had 3 spectacular wins so far. Although he is 36 points behind his teammate, Oscar Piastri, he is still in contention for the F2 title, with 2 more races to go in Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi. He also made his F1 debut earlier this year for Alpine F1 Team at the Austrian Grand Prix during FP1.
Alfa Romeo team principal Frederic Vasseur said that Zhou was the best choice for their team. He said, “Performance is not based on a single pillar, it’s always a combination of speed, collaboration with the team and the teammate, and the financial side. As for the development of the company, we think it’s a good step forward”.
Although some of us were probably expecting another driver at Alfa Romeo next year, we shouldn’t be too quick to judge Guanyu Zhou until we actually see him on track.