Guanyu Zhou has been named as a member of the Renault Sport Academy for 2019, following his departure from Ferrari’s own Formula 1 junior programme.

The 19-year-old had been part of the Ferrari Driver Academy but was released at the end of 2018, having finished eighth in the European Formula 3 championship for a second successive year.

Zhou claimed a breakthrough pair of European F3 wins with Prema last year and will make the move up to Formula 2 for 2019 with the rebranded UNI-Virtuosi squad that has taken over Russian Time’s entry.

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“It’s a huge honour to join Renault Sport Racing as an Academy member and the Formula 1 Team’s Development Driver and I can’t wait to get started," Zhou said.

"Renault has big ambitions – both for the Formula 1 team and the Academy – and that’s something which motivates me."

The Chinese racer tested F2 machinery with Russian Time at the post-season F2 test in Abu Dhabi prior to the takeover, which was confirmed in early December.

Zhou will combine his F2 commitments alongside a development role at the Enstone-based outfit.

Renault Sport Academy Director, Mia Sharizman added: “We’re excited to reveal Guanyu as a Renault Sport Academy member and the team’s Formula 1 Development Driver for this year.

"Guanyu has shown his ability as an excellent driver in the competitive European Formula 3 Championship.

"We’ve been monitoring Guanyu for some time and we’re very happy to sign him onto the young driver programme.

"In Guanyu, we have a hard-working, talented individual and we will be aiming to further develop him this season in the Formula 2 Championship.”

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