China’s ‘only hope’ Zhou ‘really wanted’ F1 drive

Guanyu Zhou is the first-ever Chinese driver to race in Formula 1.

Guanyu Zhou admits that there is pressure behind his presence as the only Chinese driver on the Formula 1 grid, and described himself as his country’s only hope for the next five to ten years.

Zhou claimed four race wins in the Formula 2 championship on his way to a third-placed finish in the Drivers’ Standings last year, and he has been signed by Alfa Romeo to partner fellow new signing Valtteri Bottas.

Part of the Alpine driver academy, he was faced with competition from Australian Oscar Piastri, but secured a drive with Frederic Vasseur’s side.

Had he been beaten to the post by the 20-year-old, he believes it would have been difficult to find a way to enter the sport in the future, so he felt the pressure to secure a drive in the pinnacle of motorsport last year.

“I felt quite a bit of pressure last year, even before the deal was done,” he said, as per the Dutch edition of

“There was so much talk about me and in my country; they really want to see me in Formula 1. And I’m the only hope for China for the next five to ten years, so I really wanted to do it.

“Also for the motorsport fans at home. There was a lot of pressure last year because it really had to happen, my chances of promotion to Formula 1 would be much smaller if I did not make it now.”

However, he insists that some of that pressure has dissipated now that he has reached F1.

“The fact that I made it now takes some of the pressure off. Of course you have the pressure of Formula 1, there is no bigger stage,” he added.

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“People all over the world will see me and they are watching what I do during the races.

“The last two or three years there has been a lot of pressure, [but] that has never stopped me from developing and improving myself.”

There will be no Chinese Grand Prix this season for the third year running, with Shanghai expected to return to the calendar in 2023, but Zhou affirms that the fans at home are excited for his debut in Bahrain this month all the same.

“As for the fans back home, I know they are really looking forward to a great season. They can’t wait for Bahrain now, they are counting down the days,” he said.

“Unfortunately we don’t have a Chinese Grand Prix yet, I would have loved to race in front of my own crowd. Unfortunately, I have never been able to do that in my career.

“I’m really looking forward to seeing the people who make the effort to come to the circuit.”

Zhou and Bottas have replaced Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi this year, with the Finn retiring after 19 seasons in the sport and the Italian moving to Formula E to race with Dragon Penske.