Guanyu Zhou, 22, will be China’s first Formula One driver after Alfa Romeo confirmed on Tuesday that he will join the team. This season, Zhou has made waves in Formula Two, and he will be paired with Valtteri Bottas, who will be going from Mercedes.
Along with current Mercedes star Valtteri Bottas, who was confirmed earlier this year, the current Formula Two title challenger will replace Antonio Giovinazzi as part of an all-new driver line-up. For a long time, Zhou has been the favourite to land the post, aided by the commercial support he carries with him.
The 22-year-old said: ‘I dreamt from a young age of climbing as high as I can in a sport that I am passionate about and now the dream has come true.
‘To be the first-ever Chinese driver in Formula One is a breakthrough for Chinese motorsport history.’
Zhou will leave Alpine after being a part of their youth program since 2019 when the team was still known as Renault. He’s in his third season in Formula Two and is now second in the standings behind Oscar Piastri, who was named Alpine’s backup driver for next season on Tuesday.
His Debut with Alfa
After the season’s final race, the Chinese driver will make his on-track debut with Alfa at the Abu Dhabi young driver test in December.
Alfa Romeo team principal Fred Vasseur told Autosport: “We have a big change in terms of regulations for 2022. We evaluated all the options that we had on the table. Valtteri was quite obvious to me. And alongside Valtteri, we had different options, and for tons of different reasons, Zhou is the first choice.”
“It’s never one thing. Performance is not based on one single pillar, it’s always a combination of speed, collaboration with the team, collaboration with the teammate, the financial side. And for the development of the company, I think it’s a good step forward.”
The seasoned Bottas, who has won ten races during his five-year spell at Mercedes, will put Zhou to the test next season. After five years of working alongside Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes has decided to separate ways with Bottas for the upcoming season. George Russell, a Williams driver who came via the Mercedes young driver program, will take his place.
Antonio Giovinazzi will retire from Formula One at the end of the season, however, he may still have a reserve position due to his ties to Ferrari. Kimi Raikkonen, Giovinazzi’s teammate, and 2007 champion will likewise retire at the end of the season, 20 years after making his debut.