Guanyu Zhou expects that, due to Chinese viewers, his presence in FP1 in Austria will lead to an increase in F1’s viewing figures.
The appearance made him only the second Chinese driver ever to compete in an official Formula 1 grand prix weekend after Ma Qinghua appeared for HRT and Caterham in 2013.
He thinks that his homeland would have taken a huge interest in it, and expects that to show in the viewing figures for the weekend.
“There is a huge amount of people watching this FP1,” he said after the session.
“I will look back when I have the time to see how many viewers we got, because I think it’s going to be more than a normal grand prix weekend to be honest.
“Obviously having a Chinese driver stepping into a practice session for the first time in seven years, people are watching and amazed.”
Loved every single moment out there today! 💨 pic.twitter.com/gZZfYWXDXd
— Guanyu Zhou (@gyzhou_33) July 2, 2021
The 22-year-old performed well, not making any major mistakes and finishing the morning in P14 just three places and less than half a second down on the other Alpine of Esteban Ocon.
He’s pleased with how he did, and says the pressure of so many people watching pushed him to drive to the limit.
“To be honest, I started the week with a lot of pressure on my shoulders,” he added.
“Because God knows how many people are watching – especially back home. In China, everybody’s watching, probably more than the races.
“So I have to do well and make no mistakes, taking care of Alonso’s car, pushing myself to the limit, not just enjoying myself.
“So I’ve definitely done that. I was able to push as hard as I would like to have done on the push laps.”
He feels that the experience will improve him as a driver on the whole as he returns to F2 to continue his title charge.
“Lots of people can win the championship with the new format,” he said.
“That FP1 session gave me a lot more confidence, so if I jump into the car next time I’m going to be feeling much more relaxed and prepared to be focused a bit more.
“Today definitely helped me a lot in general as a driver.“