‘Definitely not true’: Zhou Guanyu accuses people of ‘making things up’

Alfa Romeo’s driver lineup will be unchanged in 2023, as both Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu impressed in their debut season at the team.

2022 was a successful year for Alfa Romeo, after the team made the bold choice to replace both of their drivers from the previous year, with Kimi Raikkonen retiring and Antonio Giovinazzi not up to standard.

While on the surface it may look like Zhou Guanyu disappointed, finishing 43 points being his teammate in 18th place, Bottas has defended the Chinese rookie, claiming that he has been unlucky.

Zhou was still finding his feet in F1 at the start of the season when Alfa Romeo were competitive, only showing his true quality towards the latter end of the season after the team had unfortunately fallen behind their rivals.

This has not stopped some ‘pay driver’ accusations being thrown at Zhou, suggesting that he is only on the grid because of the sponsorship dollars that he can bring to the team rather than his talent.

READ: ‘Disrespect for money’: Ex-McLaren boss reveals $1.5m bet with Ayrton Senna

Pay drivers have been seen in the past, with Nicholas Latifi initially being signed to Williams for his sponsors before proving himself and Lance Stroll often following his father Lawrence to whatever team he purchases.

Zhou has hit back at these claims, telling reporters that just because his nationality gives him potential to attract sponsors, this should not discredit his ability.

“The financial thing is definitely not true,” said the Chinese driver, as quoted by GPFans.

“It’s people making up stuff and then obviously a lot of people go with it because people don’t know me and they don’t know anything about me.

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“They don’t watch F2, they don’t watch other series. They’re just looking at your nationality or something, which is a bit unfair in a way, but that’s how it is in the world.

“All I can do is change people’s minds. That’s what I was able to do reasonably early.”

Formula 1 is growing in Asia year after year, meaning drivers from the region can attract lucrative deals from sponsors, however every Asian driver on the current grid is there on merit.

READ: Daniel Ricciardo accused of getting ‘lured with big paycheck’

Japanese driver Yuki Tsunoda has shown glimpses of his potential with AlphaTauri, while Alex Albon has chosen to represent Thailand in F1 and has been consistently impressive, even earning himself a shot with Red Bull in the past.

Zhou has been retained by Alfa Romeo for 2023, meaning that the team have clearly been impressed with the progress of their rookie, who had been able to learn from the vastly experienced Bottas during his debut season.

With the Audi project around the corner at Sauber, Zhou will hope that he continues to impress in the coming years and earns himself a chance with F1’s newest team in 2026.