“It’s a mega, huge commitment” – Alfa Romeo team principal Fred Vasseur explains if money played a crucial role in hiring Guanyu Zhou for next season.
Guanyu Zhou will become the first-ever Chinese driver in Formula 1 when he drivers for Alfa Romeo next season. The move was never really in doubt, considering his stupendous performances in F2 – currently locked in a title battle with Oscar Piastri – and the financial backing from the Chinese side.
Much was made of Guanyu Zhou’s signing to Alfa Romeo. From meritocracy arguments, to straight up dog whistling about his Chinese heritage. Here’s a clip from Episode #332 as to why we thought its a signing that makes a lot of sense. #F1
— #Motorsport101 (@Motorsport_101) November 22, 2021
Frederic Vasseur has spoken out on what led to their decision to partner Zhou with outgoing Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas. He is evidently delighted with the line-up for next season, as they look to overcome the below-average season they are currently experiencing.
“The first criteria is the performance of the team. It means that to be performant you need to have good drivers, good technicians, good engineers, a good feeling from the drivers and a good budget.
“It was a pillar of the decision, for sure. I was always clear like this because we want to get the cost cap. It’s the best way for us to be performant.
“But it’s not the only one. I think Zhou is doing a very good job in F2 and I think everyone underestimates the level of performance and the job done by Zhou this season.
“The performance is speaking for itself. He’s a front-runner, he won this season at Bahrain and Silverstone. In F2 they are probably the two most demanding tracks – Bahrain for tyre management and Silverstone [for] its high-speed corners.
“But he did some pole positions, he’s always there, consistent and I’m sure he will do well next year.
“And also I would say the determination, because he moved from China to Europe and we know perfectly that when you move from Europe even to Japan, it’s not an easy move for a driver and Zhou did the opposite.
“When you are 13 and you move to Europe just because you want to become a racing driver, for me it’s a mega, huge commitment.
“I’m convinced he will put all of his energy into the project and I’m convinced he will do well.”
Zhou, an Alpine academy product, will replace the retiring legend and former champion Kimi Raikkonen.