Zhou Guanyu says he looks up to Lewis Hamilton amid racist abuse

Zhou Guanyu is contesting his debut season in Formula 1 with Alfa Romeo this year.

Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu has opened up on the awful racist abuse he has had to endure in recent years, and how Sir Lewis Hamilton is helping him overcome it.

In a high-profile incident, Hamilton was confronted by a group of racist fans during pre-season testing ahead of the 2008 season – the year he won his first world title.

Since then, the now seven-time champion has received various messages of hate from bigoted social media users and race attendees, but he has continually to silence them with his unprecedented success.

Zhou’s notoriety started to pick up some serious momentum during the COVID-19 lockdown of 2020, during which he starred in some Virtual Grand Prix races.

READ: Zhou Guanyu provides update on 2023 Alfa Romeo contract talks

The young Chinese driver finished third in the Formula 2 Championship last year after winning four races, and this earned him a move to Formula 1 with Alfa Romeo.

The 23-year-old has previously commented on some of the abuse he received ahead of his first race at the Bahrain Grand Prix, so in many ways, he can relate to the experience Hamilton has been through in his career.

“I feel like what Lewis experienced in some stages, I experienced at the beginning of the year before the first race,” said Zhou.

“So I can feel how tough he went through it. He’s been through that while he was fighting for several F1 titles.”

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Zhou feels that he, Hamilton and Alex Albon, who comes from a Thai background, are spreading positivity, love and inclusiveness in the pinnacle of motorsport, and that platform can also help them, as well as others on the grid, change the wider world for the better.

“I feel like I’ve experienced what he [Hamilton] experienced maybe two years ago, when he was standing out and getting all the racist comments, especially last year,” he explained.

“I was experiencing last year at the same time but kind of in a different area of our career, so these things are similar. 

“At least this year I think both of us can be showing people what we deserve, I think F1 is a big family sport, so to have everyone understanding that and to be positive about everything, is the right way to be going forward.”

In 2020, Hamilton launched the Hamilton Commission, an investigation that endeavoured to figure out why there is so little representation in F1.

Stemming from that is the Mission 44 charity, and nine of the 10 teams have signed a charter encouraging them to hire a certain percentage of female, LGBTQ+ and BAME workers.

READ: Zhou Guanyu reveals why he didn’t try to overtake Nyck de Vries

The 37-year-old’s work has transcended F1 too, with underprivileged people around the world benefitting from his tireless efforts to improve society worldwide.

“Lewis is the leader of the drivers, trying to lead the sport into a better future, which has the respect of all the drivers,” added Zhou.

Zhou is currently out of contract at the end of the 2022 season, but his impressive rookie season is widely expected to earn him another year alongside Valtteri Bottas.