Zhou Guanyu is the first Chinese Formula 1 driver. VCG
At age 22, race driver Zhou Guanyu has already made history and is showing no signs of slowing down.
Alfa Romeo Racing Orlen announced on Nov 16 that Zhou would join the team as a race driver for the 2022 season, making him the first-ever Chinese Formula 1 (F1) driver.
“Becoming an F1 driver has always been my dream, and I’m really excited to finally fulfill my dream,” Zhou told China Daily.
Zhou took up go-karting at age 7. At age 10, he won all eight stops of the Chinese national go-karting championship. A year later, he left Shanghai for the UK to study and continue training. There, he continued to show off his passion for the sport in European go-karting competitions.
In 2019, Zhou debuted in F2. That’s where most young racers begin their journey toward F1. Zhou finished the year as F2’s leading rookie. However, 2020 brought what Zhou called “by far the most difficult season for me”. Several mechanical failures led to the driver placing sixth in the standings.
But looking back, he sees this as a period of growth that has helped him show his strength. Zhou currently sits in second place in the F2 championship with three F2 wins this season.
Zhou’s victory in the F2 feature race in Bahrain in March is the driver’s most memorable moment of his career, he told Xinhua. It was “the first time for the Chinese national flag to fly at the paddock”, Zhou said.
“The road to F1 is very difficult, all of which takes a lot of time and effort,” Zhou told Xinhua. “For Chinese drivers, the process will only be more difficult because there was no guide to tell me how to choose the best path, so I had to explore all the possibilities with my team.”
The ambitious young man will make his debut at F1 next season’s opener in Bahrain.