Zhou: ‘No better option’ than to partner Bottas as a rookie

Henry Valantine
Guanyu Zhou and Valtteri Bottas leave the pits. Abu Dhabi December 2021.

Alfa Romeo drivers Guanyu Zhou and Valtteri Bottas get on track for their first laps with the team. Abu Dhabi December 2021.

Guanyu Zhou said he is looking forward to partnering Valtteri Bottas, as he’s “very open” and will be “helpful” in enabling him to settle in at Alfa Romeo.

Zhou makes the step up to Formula 1 having finished third in Formula 2 last season, and will become the first full-time driver from China to race in motorsport’s top tier in the process.

Bottas also moves to the team after five seasons at Mercedes, having played his part in Constructors’ Championships wins in every year he was with the Silver Arrows.

Having competed against Lewis Hamilton in the same team and added his own input into the title-winning juggernaut in the turbo hybrid era, the new Alfa Romeo pair will have a mixture of youth and experience – and the youngster is ready to learn from the 10-time grand prix winner.

An overhead view of Guanyu Zhou driving. Abu Dhabi December 2021.
Guanyu Zhou is captured from above as he takes part in post-season testing. Abu Dhabi December 2021.

“For a rookie, there is no better option than to have Bottas as your team-mate in your first season,” said Zhou, quoted by Motorsport.com.

“If I’m going to beat him, I know I need to work very hard and adapt very quickly to the whole of F1, and to the new car, from the very beginning.

“But I think what’s more important is that he can help me get through the learning curve. He is a very open driver. He shares his information and discusses with the team and with me, which is a very helpful point.

“After all, he’s had so many podiums and wins in F1. Among all the drivers, there are only a few who can outqualify Hamilton, and he is one of them.

“I think he’s a great reference and a very strong team-mate. I hope to improve together with him next year.”

The team found the going tough in 2021, having finished second-last of the teams in the Constructors’ Championship, falling behind Williams in the process and scoring just seven points all season.

Zhou hopes to be able to get on the board early in his own career, but he is going to take the situation step by step and view how the new car performs relative to the rest of the field.

“First of all, I set a small goal to get points,” he said. “I don’t know how competitive the car will be next season. We need to wait until the beginning of the season to get a clear picture.


“Personally, I would like to get points. But at the beginning of the season, I won’t be thinking if it will be achievable at the first two races; just not to have too much pressure.

“I want to enjoy racing in F1, to learn from my team-mate and the engineers, and improve myself in all aspects.

“When I make improvement in all areas, the results will then naturally come.”

Alfa Romeo team boss Frederic Vasseur also admitted he hopes to use Zhou’s potential on track to help their sponsorship efforts off it.

By having a driver from the world’s most populous nation in the car, he hopes to use that to help put Alfa on the “front page” of new deals in the sport.


PlanetF1 Verdict


Zhou: ‘No better’ team-mate than Bottas

Guanyu Zhou believes that there is no better team-mate to have than Valtteri Bottas.