Guanyu Zhou signs with Alfa Romeo, set to become F1's first Chinese driver
- Alfa Romeo will race with Valtteri Bottas and Guanyu Zhou in 2022
- The team described their new recruit Zhou as a 'trailblazer'
- Zhou is currently placed second on the F2 Championship table
Guanyu Zhou is set to become Formula 1's first Chinese driver. He signed with Alfa Romeo for 2022 and will partner Valtteri Bottas. Making the announcement the team described the 22-year-old as a "trailblazer who will write a pivotal page in his country's motorsport history".
In a video message posted on Alfa Romeo's social media handles, Zhou thanked the F1 outfit to present him with the opportunity to race for them and said that he is looking forward to the upcoming season.
Zhou has been hired to replace Italy's Antonio Giovinazzi, who has raced for Alfa since 2019 but now has no place on the F1 grid next year. The team had roped in Bottas after veteran driver Kimi Raikonnen announced that he will retire this year.
Zhou, currently, is second on the F2 championship with three wins this season.
He said, "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. 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."
Alfa Romeo announcing their second driver means the F1 grid (the driver line-ups) for next year is complete.
Guanyu Zhou was a part of the Ferrari driver academy from 2014 to 2018. He then joined Renault in 2019 and has been a test driver for their F1 team for the past two years.
Alfa Romeo team principal Frederic Vasseur said in an exclusive interview with BBC Sport that Zhou fitting in their package was a factor in signing. "The financial side can't be hidden."
"I don't know if in the end he will be a champion or not in F2. "But this won't change the potential that he is a frontrunner against some other very experienced guys. He also has the advantage that he was able to do some test days this season in F1 so he is not with zero mileage," Vasseur said.
"For China, it makes no sense to bring someone if the guy is nowhere [on performance]. They want to be successful."
"When he was at the beginning of the story in F3, we said: 'Perhaps this one is a potential [F1 driver].' And then he won some races in F3 Euroseries before moving to F2, and he did well.
"The most important thing for me is that he is a clever guy because he is always improving from year to year, always doing a better job and putting everything together."