What trailblazer Zhou hopes to achieve in his rookie F1 season

Guanyu Zhou is determined to prove himself and not simply make up the numbers during his rookie Formula 1 season in 2022.
What trailblazer Zhou hopes to achieve in his rookie F1 season

New Alfa Romeo signing Zhou will become F1’s first Chinese driver when he makes his debut at the Bahrain Grand Prix later this month, having graduated from Formula 2. 

The 22-year-old will partner former Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas as Alfa Romeo heads into the start of F1’s new era looking to haul itself up the grid with a completely revised driver line-up. 

After securing the final seat on the grid for 2022, Zhou is keen to grab his big opportunity with both hands. 

“I don’t want to be in F1 just for the sake of being here,” said Zhou. “I want to be here proving myself and making my country and all the people who support me proud. 

“I want to do well in F1. I want to try and get some points finishes and work with Valtteri to help move the team forward. That’s the key point. And I want to enjoy myself as well.”

What trailblazer Zhou hopes to achieve in his rookie F1 season

Asked specifically what his targets are for his rookie F1 campaign, Zhou replied: “I hope to achieve as many points as possible and try to always fight for the points, always in Q3 for the team. 

“I think that’s always the goal for the team - I don’t know what Fred [Vasseur, team principal] said, but that’s the goal I want to achieve.”

While there is huge anticipation and excitement surrounding his foray into F1, particularly from his native China, Zhou insists he feels less pressure preparing for F1 than compared to his final season in F2.  

As an Alpine junior heading into his third year in F2, Zhou was well aware he needed to challenge for the title and secure the FIA superlicence points he required to make his F1 dream possible. 

Although he ultimately fell short in his bid to beat fellow Alpine Academy member Oscar Piastri to the title, four victories helped Zhou secure a top-three finish in the drivers standings and ultimately clinch promotion to F1.  

What trailblazer Zhou hopes to achieve in his rookie F1 season

“To be the only rookie on the 2022 Formula 1 grid, of course, there’s a little bit of pressure, but it doesn’t really get to me because I feel [there was] more pressure last season,” explained Zhou. 

“I had too many people watching me, having their eye on me, at the end of my Formula 2 campaign. So that was a lot of pressure, but I think I dealt with that pretty well.

“I think through all of these years of racing I was able to adapt myself mentality-wise to adapt to different situations. I’m ready to follow all the rookies from last year, try to beat them, and develop my energy on track.”

Zhou is keen to repay Alfa Romeo’s faith in him and hopes his previous experience racing on 18-inch tyres in F2, combined with a total rules reset, will help him speed up his adaptation process in F1. 

“I really want to make the team proud of me, so I’ve been working super hard, spending time with the engineers, trying to adapt straightaway,” he said. 

“With the new 18-inch tyres, I have experienced a little bit that from Formula 2, so hopefully I can all the experience into it and really try to bring as much information to the team as possible. 

“I’m not just here for the first season to learn, I want to also show some very good potential as well.”

What trailblazer Zhou hopes to achieve in his rookie F1 season

And Zhou is relishing the prospect of going up against 10-time grand prix winner Bottas, who on his day beat seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton despite never managing to challenge for the world title across his five years with Mercedes. 

“Having Valtteri as my teammate is definitely a huge impact for my first year in Formula 1,” Zhou added. 

“I couldn’t ask for a better teammate than Valtteri because firstly, he’s a very open guy with his discussions with the team, which is very important to move forward.

“The other thing is that he is a very fast driver. He’s been working alongside Lewis for the last few years, winning all these constructors’ titles and also winning races.

“To be doing pole positions in F1, it doesn’t matter how quick your car is, you are one of the greatest drivers. 

“So to have him as my teammate, it will be a very tough year for me to straightaway be able to beat him, but I want to be moving forward. 

“I want to learn and push together with him. That can really affect the results in the end.” 

What trailblazer Zhou hopes to achieve in his rookie F1 season

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