History is going to be made next year as Chinese driver Guanyu Zhou will become the first driver from the Asian country to take part in a Formula One race following confirmation that he will partner Valtteri Bottas at Alfa Romeo next year.
The 22-year-old is currently second in the Drivers’ Championship in F2, sitting 36 points behind Oscar Piastri with two rounds left in the 2021 season. Zhou is a four-time race winner in the series.
Zhou is no stranger to F1 machinery as he took part in FP1 with Alpine at the Austrian Grand Prix earlier this year. He ended up 0.4s slower than Esteban Ocon in the session.
Frédéric Vasseur: “It is a pleasure to welcome Guanyu Zhou to Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN. He is a very talented driver, as his results in F2 have shown, and we are looking forward to helping his talent flourish even more in Formula One. We are proud of our line-up for 2022 and we are confident Zhou will form a very successful partnership with Valtteri. We are also looking forward to welcoming all the new Chinese fans who will join the team: Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN is a historical brand and one that embodies the spirit of Formula One and we will do our utmost to make the experience of our sport a great one in China.”
Guanyu Zhou: “I dreamt from a young age of climbing as high as I can in a sport that I am passionate about and now the dream has come true. It is a privilege for me to start my Formula 1 racing career with an iconic team, a team that has introduced so much young talent into Formula 1 in the past. Now the dream is reality. I feel well prepared for the immense challenge of Formula 1, the pinnacle of my sport, alongside a proven, world-class talent in Valtteri Bottas. I wish to thank the Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN team for this opportunity. Next year the target will be to learn as much as possible and as quickly as possible. To be the first-ever Chinese driver in Formula 1 is a breakthrough for Chinese motorsport history. 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.”
2022 @alfaromeoracing F1 Driver!— 周冠宇 | Guanyu Zhou 🇨🇳 (@gyzhou_33) November 16, 2021
A kid’s dream come true...
First Chinese 🇨🇳 F1 driver.
Lots of emotions going through my mind right now, I’m just so grateful for this opportunity, Thanks to everyone who believed me supported me on this journey. #F1 #TeamZHOU pic.twitter.com/WBbkcqotGZ
The big loser from the Alfa merry-go-round is Antonio Giovinazzi. After three full seasons with the team, the 27-year-old will not be on the grid in 2022.
Giovinazzi has scored 19 points in his F1 career and has regularly outqualified Kimi Raikkonen this year. He also won the head-to-head in 2020. However, that wasn’t enough for the Italian to keep his drive.
Frédéric Vasseur: “Saying goodbye to a driver is never easy, especially so in the case of Antonio, who has been part of the team for so long. As we part ways, we will cherish the memories of the good times and learn lessons from the bad ones, knowing these moments all made us grow together as a team. We wish Antonio the best for his future after the 2021 season: before then, we still have three races to achieve some good results together and finish the year strongly.”
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