Zhou is China's only F1 hope for 15 years - Alpine

Guanyu Zhou represents China’s only chance of having a Formula 1 driver in the next 15-20 years, according to Alpine academy director Mia Sharizman.

Zhou is China's only F1 hope for 15 years - Alpine

Zhou has been part of the French team’s academy since 2019, joining under its previous Renault guise, and served as the squad’s F1 test driver last year.

He scored his maiden victory in Formula 2 last year, but could only finish sixth in the championship despite being tipped for a title bid at the start of the season.

The Chinese driver will remain with UNI-Virtuosi for a third season in 2021, and has been tasked by Alpine with challenging for the championship.

Alpine is already exploring options over placing its junior drivers in F1 seats, but Zhou’s future carries extra significance as the series looks for its first full-time Chinese driver. 

Sharizman feels Zhou represents a once-in-a-generation chance for China to have an F1 driver, and stressed Alpine’s commitment to giving him that opportunity.

“In the case of Zhou specifically, we started off the project three years ago with the aim that [he would be ready for F1] by the end of his three-year tenure here in the academy,” Sharizman said. "It was always a once in a generation project, especially for Zhou coming from China.

"We will never, ever see another Chinese driver for the next 15-20 years, whether in Formula 3, Formula 4 or Formula 2.

“That is something that from the team itself, from the Renault Group, from the Alpine F1 team, we are committed to make sure that happens in the future.”

Guanyu Zhou, UNI-Virtuosi leads Felipe Drugovich, MP Motorsport

Guanyu Zhou, UNI-Virtuosi leads Felipe Drugovich, MP Motorsport

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Zhou has sampled F1 machinery in a number of test outings with Renault, spending time in its 2018-spec car throughout last year, but has not yet featured in a grand prix weekend.

Ma Qinghua is so far the only Chinese driver to take part in an F1 practice session, featuring in five FP1s with HRT and Caterham across 2012 and 2013.

Asked by Motorsport.com about the high expectations in China to reach F1, Zhou said he was focusing on a high finish in this year’s championship to gain the super licence points required for a graduation.

“If I can get the title, we have the potential, then I can be an F1 driver and I’m ready to be driving an F1 car,” Zhou said. That’s exactly the target for this year, to try and win the title, be one of the title contenders.

"Definitely to be a title contender is the key, but if not, to finish top three. We saw in the past that drivers who finished in the top three in the Formula 2 championship, they are in F1 the following year.

“It’s a high level championship to be showing your potential and if you’re capable to do it, and I think I’ll have a chance to be stepping up.”

shares
comments

Related video

Piastri: Rookie F2 year "very important" as F1 looms on the horizon

Previous article

Piastri: Rookie F2 year "very important" as F1 looms on the horizon

Next article

Campos Racing affirms future is "already assured"

Campos Racing affirms future is "already assured"
Load comments
How Campos Racing has bounced back from its devastating loss Prime

How Campos Racing has bounced back from its devastating loss

After the sudden death of its founder in January, Formula 2 stalwart Campos Racing was left facing its hardest season to date. But new team boss Adrian Jr is determined to honour his father’s legacy and has returned the team to its winning ways

FIA F2
Sep 20, 2021
How F2 and F3's flawed format changes could prove shortlived Prime

How F2 and F3's flawed format changes could prove shortlived

After a chaotic 2020, marred by the coronavirus pandemic, the FIA brought in radical changes to Formula 2 and 3. But less than 12 months later, there are talks of them being reversed after all did not go to plan…

FIA F2
Sep 9, 2021
The Red Bull F1 junior aiming to defy geographical odds Prime

The Red Bull F1 junior aiming to defy geographical odds

It's a long way from Pukekohe New Zealand to Milton Keynes, but Red Bull's Kiwi protege Liam Lawson has defied plenty of odds to reach the rung below F1. He's endured disappointment since winning on his F2 debut in Bahrain, but is determined to turn his season around and prove himself worthy of a place on the F1 grid

FIA F2
Jul 27, 2021
How Red Bull's next F1 hopeful turned around his season Prime

How Red Bull's next F1 hopeful turned around his season

Having impressed in Formula 3, Juri Vips looked to be next cab off the rank in Red Bull's prestigious Junior Team before his 2020 schedule was dealt a heavy blow by the COVID-19 pandemic. After a tough start to life in Formula 2, Vips is showing signs of a recovery - could he be the first Estonian to reach Formula 1?

FIA F2
Jun 14, 2021
How F1 hopeful Pourchaire is re-writing the F2 record books Prime

How F1 hopeful Pourchaire is re-writing the F2 record books

He'd marked himself out as a star of the future in last year's FIA Formula 3 championship, but 17-year-old Theo Pourchaire underlined his credentials by winning his first Formula 2 race in the Monaco feature. Sauber junior status gives him a clear route to the top, but with wisdom beyond his years, he's not getting caught up in his own hype.

FIA F2
Jun 3, 2021
The F1 hopeful living two lives to keep his dream alive Prime

The F1 hopeful living two lives to keep his dream alive

Having lost his backing from Red Bull, Richard Verschoor has had to graft to continue his ascent up the single-seater ladder. An impressive Formula 2 debut in Bahrain, despite the lateness of his deal, shows his unorthodox approach is paying dividends.

FIA F2
Apr 22, 2021
Was Formula 2’s radical format switch a success? Prime

Was Formula 2’s radical format switch a success?

Going into the 2021 Formula 2 season the biggest talking point wasn’t about any drivers or teams, but the new race weekend format. Created partly out of financial necessity but also to spice up the action, the Bahrain opener provided a snapshot of the positives and negatives to come.

FIA F2
Apr 4, 2021
Why 2021 is make-or-break for the driver F1 needs Prime

Why 2021 is make-or-break for the driver F1 needs

He was tipped for glory in FIA Formula 2 last year, but was hampered by reliability woes at inopportune moments. Guanyu Zhou knows he won't get too many more chances if he is to become China's first F1 driver, with fierce competition within the ranks of Alpine's junior stable

FIA F2
Mar 25, 2021