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Alfa Romeo make F1 history with Zhou signing

Alfa Romeo make F1 history with Zhou signing

F1 News

Alfa Romeo make F1 history with Zhou signing

Alfa Romeo make F1 history with Zhou signing
Ian Parkes & Ewan Gale

Guanyu Zhou will become the first Chinese driver to compete in F1 by joining Alfa Romeo for 2022.

The F2 contender will replace Antonio Giovinazzi at the Hinwil-based outfit, bringing to an end the Italian's three-year stint with the team as team-mate to Kimi Raikkonen.

The decision ensures the team will enter F1's radically adapted formula for 2022 with an all-new driver line-up, with Zhou joining outgoing Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas.

Zhou impressed with his pace on his debut F1 weekend outing with Alpine at the Red Bull ring earlier this year, whilst his race-winning exploits have proven him to be a contender to join the grid over the past two seasons.

Only the second Chinese driver to take part during an F1 weekend, Zhou will be the first to claim a race seat and compete during qualifying and grands prix.

Zhou 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.

"It is a privilege for me to start my Formula 1 career with an iconic team, a team that has introduced so much young talent into Formula 1 in the past.

"Now the dream is reality. I feel well prepared for the immense challenge of Formula 1, the pinnacle of my sport, alongside a proven, world-class talent in Valtteri Bottas.

"I wish to thank Alfa Romeo for this opportunity. Next year the target will be to learn as much as possible and as quickly as possible.

"To be the first-ever Chinese driver in Formula 1 is a breakthrough for Chinese motorsport history.

"I know a lot of hopes will be resting on me and, as ever, I will take this as motivation to become better and achieve more.”

Alfa Romeo hoping for "mega push" from Zhou signing

Zhou will bring a welter of experience and race-winning acumen to the Alfa Romeo team when he joins Bottas to push the team on towards the midfield battle from next season.

With competition for the final spot on the grid that included fellow F2 competitors Théo Pourchaire - who is also a Sauber Academy driver - and Zhou's Alpine junior partner Oscar Piastri, Vasseur has revealed why the team made its decision.

Speaking to GPFans, Vasseur said: "It is a good combination of performance - he is a frontrunner in F2, with Théo, with Oscar but he is experienced.

"Next year will be a challenge. He has no contract anymore with another car manufacturer. For us it is important because I don't want to have someone linked with another team.

"We don't have to hide it that he will be the first Chinese driver in F1. This is a mega push for the company and a mega push for our sponsors.

"Overall, I think it will be a push for F1. If you put everything together, this will help us to be at the cost cap and it is key for the performance, for the performance of the two cars and I think we have made the best decision."

Expressing gratitude for Giovinazzi's three years with the team, Vasseur added: “Saying goodbye to a driver is never easy, especially so in the case of Antonio, who has been part of the team for so long.

"As we part ways, we will cherish the memories of the good times and learn lessons from the bad ones, knowing these moments all made us grow together as a team.

"We wish Antonio the best for his future after the 2021 season: before then, we still have three races to achieve some good results together and finish the year strongly.”

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