Renault has appointed former Ferrari youngster Guanyu Zhou as its development driver and added the Chinese driver to its academy.
Zhou has spent the past three years racing in the European Formula 3 championship, finishing 13th in 2016 before improving to eighth place in each of the past two seasons. The 19-year-old won two races last year but has left the Ferrari Driver Academy, who this year added 2018 F3 champion Mick Schumacher to its ranks.
“It’s a huge honor to join Renault Sport Racing as an Academy member and the Formula 1 team’s development driver and I can’t wait to get started,” Zhou said. “Renault has big ambitions – both for the Formula 1 team and the Academy – and that’s something which motivates me.
“I know the significance of Renault in China, so I’m especially proud to represent both Renault, as a brand, and China in the racing world.”
Zhou will race for the newly-formed UNI-Virtuosi outfit in Formula 2 this season, and hopes the Renault role will provide added support for his rookie year at that level.
“Formula 2 is the next step in my career,” he said. “It looks to be a competitive field of drivers and there is going to be a lot to learn in a short space of time. I’ve been working hard during the winter and the three-days Formula 2 testing in Abu Dhabi was hugely beneficial. I’m looking forward to drawing on Renault’s help and advice this season as I aim for success and trophies.”
Renault Sport Academy director Mia Sharizman says Renault has been keeping tabs on Zhou for a while; his acquisition also a strategic one as the group looks to elevate its brand position in China.
“We’re excited to reveal Guanyu as a Renault Sport Academy member and the team’s Formula 1 development driver for this year,” Sharizman said. “Guanyu has shown his ability as an excellent driver in the competitive European Formula 3 Championship.
“We’ve been monitoring Guanyu for some time and we’re very happy to sign him onto the young driver program. In Guanyu, we have a hard-working, talented individual and we will be aiming to further develop him this season in the Formula 2 Championship.”