Guanyu Zhou will become the first Chinese driver to race in Formula 1 after being confirmed as Antonio Giovinazzi’s replacement at Alfa Romeo.
The Alpine junior driver is currently second in the Formula 2 championship standings behind Oscar Piastri, who has also been confirmed as Alpine reserve for next season. But the more experienced Zhou has been selected to partner Valtteri Bottas in 2022, with the 22-year-old saying he hopes to develop quickly in the face of what he expects to be significant interest from China.
“I dreamt from a young age of climbing as high as I can in a sport that I am passionate about and now the dream has come true,” Zhou said. “It is a privilege for me to start my Formula 1 racing career with an iconic team, a team that has introduced so much young talent into Formula 1 in the past.
“Now the dream is reality. I feel well prepared for the immense challenge of Formula 1, the pinnacle of my sport, alongside a proven, world-class talent in Valtteri Bottas. I wish to thank the Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN team for this opportunity.
“Next year the target will be to learn as much as possible and as quickly as possible. To be the first ever Chinese driver in Formula 1 is a breakthrough for Chinese motorsport history. I know a lot of hopes will be resting on me and, as ever, I will take this as motivation to become better and achieve more.”
After three wins, Zhou is 36 points adrift of Piastri with six races to run in the F2 season, with three races at each of the final two events in Jeddah and Abu Dhabi.
Alfa Romeo team principal Fred Vasseur says Zhou’s results in F2 have earned him the opportunity to make the step up, but acknowledges the significance of having a Chinese driver given the potential market it opens up.
“It is a pleasure to welcome Guanyu Zhou to Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN,” Vasseur said. “He is a very talented driver, as his results in F2 have shown, and we are looking forward to helping his talent flourish even more in Formula 1. We are proud of our line-up for 2022 and we are confident Zhou will form a very successful partnership with Valtteri.
“We are also looking forward to welcoming all the new Chinese fans who will join the team: Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN is a historical brand and one that embodies the spirit of Formula One and we will do our utmost to make the experience of our sport a great one in China.”