Alonso wants to see Zhou ‘in Formula 1 soon’
Fernando Alonso has followed up his praise of Guanyu Zhou by saying he hopes he can “get into Formula 1 soon”.
Zhou is a prominent member of the Alpine Academy and was given his first FP1 outing by the team at the Austrian Grand Prix in Alonso’s car.
It was a clean and competitive session for the Chinese driver, who completed 29 laps of the Red Bull Ring and was 14th in the timings – splitting the two Aston Martins, 0.434sec behind Esteban Ocon in the other Alpine.
Currently leading the F2 Championship by five points after two race wins this year, Zhou impressed Alonso who has developed a good relationship with the 22-year-old from Shanghai – and sees him as a potential F1 rival of the future.
“It was a nice weekend for us to have Zhou in the car,” said Alonso, quoted by GPFans, about a driver who followed former HRT and Caterham tester Ma Qinghua as the second representative from mainland China to participate in a grand prix weekend.
“From the moment we knew [he would be in the car] we were chatting on the telephone and on email about what I was feeling the previous weekend and getting him as prepared as possible for FP1.
“He is a very nice guy, very talented and he put a lot of work into the driving with the simulator time and the engineering time.
“It was a very professional weekend, well-executed from Zhou and what I expect, hopefully, is to see him in more FP1s to see him build the speed and the confidence.
“Also, if he can win the F2 Championship that would be amazing. I like him as a person and as a driver, so let’s hope he can get into Formula 1 soon.”
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In the race itself as the Austrian double-header was completed, Alonso found himself having to hunt down George Russell’s Williams in order to bag the team’s only point of the weekend.
Compared to where they were last year, the convergence of the teams’ respective performances could be seen as a worry but Alonso thinks it may have been track-specific.
“They [Williams] made a step forward, yes, but also we checked last year in Austria, they started 12th so it seems a circuit where they are performing really well,” said the Spaniard, who missed out on Q3 when he was impeded by Sebastian Vettel on his last flying lap.
“We need to wait a couple of races to see if they are that fast or not, but the first weekend they were closer to us, the last weekend we had a little bit more margin.
“I am happy with the progress we have made in these two weeks, so it’s up to us now to keep it going into Silverstone to see if we can repeat this kind of performance because this will put us top seven, top eight and that is a step forward for sure.”
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