As part of a wide-ranging interview ahead of the Belgian Grand Prix, Zhou told Crash.net of his respect and admiration for Hamilton, who he branded as “one of the greatest in the history of motorsport”.
“The way he was dealing with the pressures, is insane,” Zhou continued.
“I feel like what Lewis experienced in some stages, I experienced at the beginning of the year before the first race. So I can feel how tough he went through it. He’s been through that while he was fighting for several F1 titles.
“For me, I know I’m not going to be fighting for the title, maybe to score points get the best out of my car. So big respect to him.
“Especially in F1, the hardest competition, to be winning seven years is crazy. Doesn’t matter if you have the best car, still winning is not easy.”
While Hamilton has not given any of his secrets to success away, Zhou revealed the Briton offered his congratulations after he marked his F1 debut with points in Bahrain.
Hamilton was also seen checking in with Zhou during Thursday’s media duties in Austria, days after Zhou survived a terrifying airborne crash at the British Grand Prix.
“He congratulated me after Bahrain and we sometimes stay in touch,” Zhou said.
“Not knowing him for long, I think it’s the first time I’ve actually got to know him, this year. Obviously advice he wouldn’t give me, because it’s a competition.
“But he’s been very much on my side, and he knows what I’ve been through, because it’s kind of similar.”
Hamilton has often faced criticism about his support for diversity and equality. A powerful and leading voice in the Black Lives Matter movement, Hamilton has regularly challenged his own sport and fellow drivers to do more in recent years.
Zhou, who was subjected to online abuse and racist comments prior to his rookie F1 season, says he can understand the difficulties Hamilton has had to go through.
“I feel like I’ve experienced what he 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.
“Lewis is the leader of the drivers, trying to lead the sport into a better future, which has the respect of all the drivers.”
Zhou shares Hamilton’s passion for fashion and says the Mercedes driver’s flamboyant style has helped him feel comfortable in expressing himself in the F1 paddock.
“It’s been great in the last few years watching Lewis showing a different style in the paddock,” he said.
“This year I’ve been trying to show the stuff I usually like to wear in the paddock. In the past, maybe 20 years ago, racing drivers were just about racing. We still have our enjoyable personal stuff to do and to be showing that on Thursdays, I think it’s great.
“Obviously he was the first one to be open in that way and it wasn’t easy. I fully remember the first time he did that. A lot of people were saying ‘why is he wearing that?’ and I was one of the guys who liked his fashion sense.
“When I arrived in F1, I just really wanted to be myself, either on track or off track, so that was what I tried to do. It’s great that now we have more people using their own clothes in the paddock.”
And Zhou plans to follow in Hamilton’s footsteps by launching his own clothing line.
“That’s definitely on the plan in the future,” he added. "Because I really want to make my own brand in the future, just purely fashion designing stuff.”