Frederic Vasseur said he believes some journalists were “very insulting” to Zhou Guanyu at the start of his career after speculation he was signed due to the sponsorship he would bring.
Excluding Kevin Magnussen’s late comeback to the sport, Zhou was the last of the drivers to be confirmed for the 2022 season when it was announced he would be replacing Antonio Giovinazzi in the Alfa car.
Pretty much as soon as his arrival was confirmed, rumours began to surface that Alfa had signed Zhou, the first fully-fledged Chinese F1 driver, as a result of the sponsorship money he would bring.
This was a point made by Giovinazzi after his departure who said F1 was “ruthless” when “money rules” but team boss Vasseur has said that the media was insulting to Zhou.
“Some [journalists] were, I believe, very insulting to Zhou at one point ,” Vasseur said, as reported by Motorsport.com.
“What we have to keep in mind is that Zhou did a good job in F2. He got some pole positions, he won some of the best races. When you’re able to win in Bahrain or Silverstone, it’s not by chance, and Zhou’s approach is the right one.
“He works hard, he’s at the factory every week we’re not [on the circuit]. He was with us [before the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix], he will come back afterwards.
“He is totally invested, totally dedicated, he works very hard and in F1, this approach or this part of the job becomes more and more important.”
🏖️🏀🕶 Whasssup MIAMI! pic.twitter.com/fkLhaIpBPM
— 周冠宇 | Zhou Guanyu 🇨🇳 (@ZhouGuanyu24) May 5, 2022
Zhou has one point to his name so far in the 2022 season having achieved that in his debut race and Vasseur singled out the 22-year-old’s attitude for praise.
“The attitude is perfect, he is very team-oriented in his attitude, in his comments ,” he said.
“In Barcelona, Valtteri [Bottas] was unable to complete a session due to reliability issues. On Sunday, we had [the shooting day] and Zhou went to Valtteri spontaneously and said to him, ‘Valtteri, you don’t didn’t drive last week. If you want, you can take my place [for filming] and drive the car.’
“He’s very focused on the performance of the team and I think that’s part of the fact that the atmosphere is very positive. Valtteri is fully aware of that, because… I think it’s natural [for him] but I also spend my life reminding him that we have to have a strong team.
“We can’t be focused on one car so we need to include Zhou, because he will be able to challenge Valtteri in certain corners and the performance will come from this emulation. They are really open-minded and collaborate with a very, very good team spirit. And I think that is also part of our good dynamic.”