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“Guanyu Zhou will be the perfect Chinese ambassador to Formula 1”: Alfa Romeo boss talks about what his new driver for 2022 is going to bring to the team and F1

Somin Bhattacharjee
|Tue Nov 16 2021

Guanyu Zhou has been confirmed as Alfa Romeo’s second driver for 2022, and Frederic Vasseur thinks it opens a pool of opportunities. 

His move to Alfa Romeo was being labelled as the ‘worst kept secret’ in F1. He has been linked to the team for quite a few months now, and it was made official on Tuesday. The 22-year-old replaces Antonio Giovinazzi, who hasn’t landed himself a seat for next year. It is widely speculated that the Italian driver will switch to Formula E for 2022.

Zhou is the first Chinese driver to secure a full-time seat in the sport. Ma Qing Ha previously made practice appearances for HRT and Caterham between 2012-13. However, he never took part in a Grand Prix.

F1 sees China as a country with huge market potential. Zhou’s move to F1 gets confirmed just weeks after it was announced that the Chinese GP had been renewed till 2025. This move is sure to bring in new fans from the country, which is great for the sport in the long term.

Alfa Romeo team principal Frederic Vasseur thinks that Zhou can bring a lot to Formula 1.

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Guanyu Zhou joining Alfa Romeo is huge for Formula 1, says Vasseur

Vasseur thinks that the Shanghai-born driver will bring a lot to the entire sport, not just his team. “I think for the company, for current sponsors work, for the nine other teams, for F1 in general, it’s a huge opportunity,” he said.

“Huge. I think it’s vital that if you want to develop the team. But even for F1, the approach is the same. It makes sense to open a new market like China.

“And I think that Zhou will be the perfect ambassador for this. Because he did very well in the junior series, much better than all the Chinese drivers before. However I know perfectly that it will be a challenge, because it’s always a challenge when you are joining F1.”

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Having Valtteri Bottas and Zhou as drivers is a huge step forward for Alfa Romeo

Zhou will team up with Valtteri Bottas in 2022. Bottas will bring in loads of experience to the Swiss team after a successful spell with Mercedes. He won 10 races during his time with the Brackley based team.

After a long time, the Finnish driver leads the team while Zhou is expected to be the rookie that ‘finds his feet in F1’.

“To have this kind of line-up with Valtteri having done pole positions and won races is a huge push for the company,” says Vasseur. “We also know that he will have massive pressure on his shoulders next year.”

“I like this feeling at the end of the day, because we are all working under pressure. And this is the DNA of our business. And next year will be a huge challenge for us, with Zhou, with Valtteri for different reasons, and the new car. It’s an exciting challenge.”

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