Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu has revealed he is looking up to Lewis Hamilton as the young Chinese driver finds his feet in the sport.
Zhou, the only rookie on the 2022 Formula 1 grid, has spoken of his admiration for the seven-time former World Champion, explaining he feels a kinship with Hamilton as a result of negativity aimed at them in the past.
Zhou revealed the online racism and abuse he suffered after being announced as an Alfa Romeo driver for 2022 had been similar to what Hamilton has encountered during his 15-year career in the top flight.
He revealed Hamilton has made an effort to reach out and connect with him during his first year on the grid.
“I feel like I’ve experienced what [Lewis] experienced maybe two years ago, when he was standing out and getting all the racist comments, especially last year,” Zhou told Crash.net.
“I was experiencing [it] last year at the same time but kind of in a different area of our career, so these things are similar. At least this year, I think both of us are showing people what we deserve.
“I think F1 is a big family sport, so to have everyone understanding that and to be positive about everything is the right way to be going forward.
“Lewis is the leader of the drivers, trying to lead the sport into a better future, which has the respect of all the drivers.”
Having scored points on his debut in Bahrain, Zhou revealed Hamilton was one of the first drivers to make contact to acknowledge his feat.
“He congratulated me after Bahrain and we sometimes stay in touch,” Zhou explained.
“Not knowing him for long, I think it’s the first time I’ve actually got to know him, this year. Obviously, advice he wouldn’t give me because it’s a competition.
“But he’s been very much on my side and he knows what I’ve been through because it’s kind of similar.”
Zhou Guanyu admiring of Lewis Hamilton’s fashion sense
Hamilton is well known for daring and flamboyant personal clothing, particularly when he arrives in the paddock at a grand prix weekend.
It is the seven-time former World Champion’s attitude towards fashion, and his dismissal of other people’s feelings about it, that Zhou admitted he particularly would like to emulate.
“It’s been great in the last few years watching Lewis showing a different style in the paddock,” he said.
“This year, I’ve been trying to show the stuff I usually like to wear in the paddock. In the past, maybe 20 years ago, racing drivers were just about racing. We still have our enjoyable personal stuff to do and to be showing that on Thursdays, I think it’s great.
“He was the first to be open in that way and it wasn’t easy. I fully remember the first time he did that. A lot of people were saying ‘why is he wearing that?’ and I was one of the guys who liked his fashion sense.
“When I arrived in F1, I just really wanted to be myself, either on track or off track, so that was what I tried to do. It’s great that now we have more people using their own clothes in the paddock. I really want to make my own brand in the future, just purely fashion – designing stuff.”