Zhou knows ‘world is watching’ but wants to ‘talk on track’

Sam Cooper
Guanyu Zhou in thought. Austria, July 2021.

Future Alfa Romeo driver Guanyu Zhou in thought while in the Formula 1 paddock. Austria, July 2021.

New Alfa Romeo driver Guanyu Zhou said he knows the world is watching but wants to do his talking on the track as he prepares for his debut season in Formula 1. 

Zhou was brought in to replace Antonio Giovinazzi in the Alfa seat in an off-season that also saw ex-Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas fill the boots of the retiring Kimi Raikkonen.

Expectation is high on the Chinese driver after Giovinazzi speculated that it was money rather than talent that saw him lose his seat.

Zhou, set to be China’s first-ever fully fledged Formula 1 driver, is understood to be bringing a big sponsorship package with him to Alfa Romeo.

But the 22-year-old says he hopes to do his talking on track.

“Of course there will always be pressure when you become a Formula 1 driver, knowing all the world is watching you, watching any mistake you’re making,” he told Gazzetta dello Sport.

“So you have to try to make as few mistakes as possible and try to talk on track. I think that’s the most important part. But of course joining Alfa Romeo, such an historic brand that has so much pressure in Formula 1, I think it’s very good.

“Having the people working behind you, I think they really have the [right] spirit and you got to do well too.”

While Zhou said his main target for his rookie season was to learn as much as possible, he also admitted he was aiming for points.

He added: “My target firstly I think is, you know, to learn as much as possible, especially in the first part of the season, to put my feet into the Formula 1 world and then build up my momentum, build up my experience in this scenario.

“But in general I want to finish in the points, not just one time, hopefully more often.

“Of course before that, it means you have to have a great team, work together and then you gotta have a great car. Everything comes together as one team. And then you can finally really develop the results on track. But the goal is for sure to finish in the points.”

Zhou enters the sport having finished third in the Formula 2 Championship last season and having won the F3 Asian Championship.

He has been around the F1 paddock for a while having been a test driver for Renault and then again after the team’s rebrand to Alpine, but his Alfa move will be the first time Zhou has raced in the sport’s premier competition.

However, his new boss Frederic Vasseur told the BBC that the decision to sign Zhou was not all about the money.


“The financial side can’t be hidden,” he said.

“In the end, our sponsors also want to be happy and develop their commitment to the future.

“The first Chinese driver in F1 – it’s mega news for us, for the company, for our sponsors and also for F1 in general.

“A team has to become sustainable at one stage. It is not just about the Chinese sponsors, it is about the exposure we will give to our current partners.

“F1 today is a bit tough. If you are not in the top two plus Ferrari, the exposure is very low and this is probably the best way we will have to move up the classification of exposure.”

Zhou wants to eliminate his 'pay driver' tag

Guanyu Zhou wants to remove his pay driver tag and show his ability in F1.