Zhou’s FP1 debut for Alpine a ‘dream come true’

Henry Valantine
Guanyu Zhou

Formula 2 Championship leader Guanyu Zhou says his first FP1 outing for Alpine at the Austrian Grand Prix is “like a dream coming true”.

The Alpine Academy driver will go behind the wheel of Fernando Alonso’s car in Spielberg on Friday in his first taste of current F1 machinery, having tested a 2018 Renault chassis at Silverstone a few weeks ago alongside fellow Alpine junior Oscar Piastri.

Zhou won the Formula 3 Asian Championship at the start of the year and has two wins and two pole positions to his name in Formula 2 so far this season.

The 22-year-old Chinese driver, who is in his second season in a test role with the Enstone-based team, is extremely excited by the prospect of driving the car of one of his early heroes from his childhood.

“Driving in FP1 at a Formula 1 grand prix weekend is like a dream coming true and another step closer to my ultimate goal of becoming a Formula 1 driver,” said Zhou upon the announcement.

“It will be a very special moment. I’m preparing myself as much as I can to be ready and also ensure I’m able to complete all the targets and plans the team have set me to do.

“There have not been many Chinese drivers in Formula 1, so to be behind the wheel of an F1 car during a race weekend will be a very proud feeling.

“It will be even more special that I’m driving Fernando’s car as he inspired me to pursue a career in racing when I was young.

“I’m very happy with my achievements so far and very thankful for the support I have from those around me. My aim is to maximise this opportunity and I’m really looking forward to it.”

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Alpine CEO Laurent Rossi added: “The challenge for young drivers to get into F1 is incredibly hard and we are proud to support upcoming talent on this road.

“In his role as test driver, Guanyu has participated in test and simulator sessions, so running a free practice in a current car is a logical and important step for one of the academy’s brightest stars.

“This experience will greatly help him as he makes very solid progress towards the ultimate target that constitutes a full-time F1 seat.”

Alpine Academy director Mia Sharizman said: “It has been a long but rewarding process with Zhou putting the hard work in behind the scenes to get to this point in his career.

“The fact he is now leading the Formula 2 Championship is proof of this hard work and dedication and we are all looking forward to seeing him in a Formula 1 car this weekend.”

Free practice 1 will take place on Friday July 2 at 11.30am local time in Austria (10.30am BST).

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