Zhou Guanyu says he’s happy he avoided Alpine amid Oscar Piastri saga

Zhou Guanyu left Alpine for Alfa Romeo ahead of the 2022 season.

Zhou Guanyu has confirmed that he has been “completely released” by Alpine, and Oscar Piastri’s current situation vindicates his decision to join Alfa Romeo this season.

Piastri and Zhou both won four races in Formula 2 last season as the Australian won the title, with the 23-year-old finishing third.

Both did so as Alpine academy drivers, but Zhou flew the nest at the end of last season when he was confirmed at Alfa Romeo alongside Valtteri Bottas, who had joined from Mercedes.

It left the Swiss side with an altogether new line-up following the retirement of Kimi Raikkonen and the departure of Antonio Giovinazzi for the Dragon Penske Formula E team.

READ: Zhou Guanyu reveals surprising fact ahead of 2022 French Grand Prix

Zhou and Bottas have managed points on nine occasions between them so far, with the young Chinese driver finishing in the top 10 in Bahrain and Canada, although the pace of the Alfa Romeo has begun to fall away in recent rounds.

Piastri continued as Alpine’s reserve driver, and the French team have been looking to get him into a race seat next year.

However, they held back on giving him some experience elsewhere in case they needed him next year in the event that Fernando Alonso departed.

Meanwhile, Alonso was being kept waiting for a new contract, with the French side unsure as to whether they wanted to promote Piastri if they could not find him a seat elsewhere.

Article continues below

Both drivers became tired of the situation, so Alonso has signed for Aston Martin next season, while Piastri has refused to join them next year having potentially agreed a deal with McLaren.

The young Australian being kept in a limbo, in Zhou’s eyes, justified his decision to leave even before Piastri dropped the bombshell that he will not be racing with the Enstone-based squad in 2023.

“I’ve been completely released,” he confirmed when speaking to Racer.

“So the deal was definitely not to continue with Alpine, because I didn’t see anywhere I could have a seat for next year or for this year. 

“And Alfa and Alpine are quite big competitor brands – not just in Formula 1 but in general – so it was not easy to get out of Alpine but I’m very happy that everything worked out well because if I had another year I’d be kind of stuck, the same now with Oscar. 

“So, it’s not the best thing for me. I feel like there was an opportunity here so I went for it, and I think it was a very good decision.”

Zhou’s first-ever point on his debut in Bahrain was an emotional moment, and particularly satisfying after some horrible racist abuse he had received.

“I didn’t expect to be in the points but I knew I had stronger race craft than qualifying,” he explained. 

READ: Aston Martin warned that Fernando Alonso could cause problems and ‘split the team’

“But that race was very stressful because I was comfortable in P8 or P9 and then we had a late Safety Car, so I had to box and I dropped to P12 and I had to climb back through the field. 

“So, that was tough, but when I crossed the line with P10 that just meant such a lot. I have never been so emotional ever, in my whole career.

“It’s the pressure I was handling and facing since last winter, though the last rounds of F2 all the way to here, It’s incredible. 

“I don’t think anyone can imagine it, because I was facing the pressure of these comments and I was still racing in F2 trying to fight for the title, so that kind of took me down a little bit.

“But it didn’t stop me showing myself in F1 so that’s the most important thing.”

Piastri’s prospective move to McLaren could end up seeing Daniel Ricciardo switching back to Alpine next season.