Guanyu Zhou to replace Giovinazzi at Alfa Romeo in 2022, becoming the first Chinese F1 driver

22-year-old is currently second in the F2 championship and will be teammates with Valtteri Bottas next season

By Yuri Coghe
“I feel well prepared for the immense challenge of Formula 1,” said Zhou in a statement (Photo: Guanyu Zhou/Twitter)

The 2022 Formula 1 grid is now complete.

Alfa Romeo has announced on Tuesday that 22-year-old Chinese driver Guanyu Zhou is joining the team next season to replace Antonio Giovinazzi. He currently sits second in the F2 championship and will be teammates with Valtteri Bottas to become the first Chinese Formula 1 driver.

The axed Italian will move to Formula E, where he’ll drive for Dragon Penske alongside Brazilian driver Sergio Sette Camara after three full seasons in F1.

He was backed by Renault, and then Alpine, but severed his ties with the French outfit in order to sign for Alfa Romeo.

“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,” said Zhou in a statement. “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.”

Zhou won the F3 Asian Championship in 2021, also claiming three of his four F2 wins so far this year. He finished seventh in the F2 championship in 2019 and sixth in 2020, when he won his first race in the series at Sochi, Russia.

The Chinese youngster is also a race winner in the European F3 series and was the runner-up in the 2015 Italian F4 championship.

More driver changes news:

Canadian Nicholas Latifi to stay with Williams for 2022, Alex Albon returns to F1 as his teammate
2022 grid takes shape: Bottas to Alfa Romeo, Russell to Mercedes and more
2007 world champion Kimi Raikkonen, 43, to retire from F1 at the end of the season

“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,” he continued.

“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.”

Alfa Romeo team principal Frédéric Vasseur is confident in the team’s complete driving duo rebuild heading into 2022 – a domino effect that started when 2007 world champion Kimi Raikkonen announced he would retire at the end of the season back in early September.

“(Zhou) 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 One,” said Vasseur. “We are proud of our line-up for 2022 and we are confident Zhou will form a very successful partnership with Valtteri (Bottas).”

Giovinazzi out and unhappy

27-year-old Giovinazzi is on his way out of F1 after spending three full seasons with Alfa Romeo in which he claimed 19 points in 59 stars so far. His best result was a fifth place in the 2019 Brazilian Grand Prix.

He made his debut in the 2017 Australian GP, replacing German driver Pascal Wehrlein on Sauber, who had neck injuries, holding reserve drivers duties for Sauber and Haas that year. Giovaiazzi then signed with Alfa Romeo as a reserve driver for 2018.

“Saying goodbye to a driver is never easy, especially so in the case of Antonio (Giovinazzi), who has been part of the team for so long,” said Vasseur. “As we part ways, we will cherish the memories of the good times and learn lessons from the bad ones, knowing these moments all made us grow together as a team.”

The Italian wasn’t so pleased with the news.

“F1 is emotion, talent, cars, risk, speed. But when money rules it can be ruthless,” he tweeted shortly after the Alfa Romeo announcement was released. “I believe in the surprise of an unexpected result, of big or small victories achieved thanks to one’s commitment.”

Zhou is reported to bring a big investment from Chinese sponsors to Alfa Romeo, but the team denied the financial reason was the main reason behind his signing, pointing to his results, speed and the doors he’ll likely be able to open in the huge Chinese market.

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One thought on “Guanyu Zhou to replace Giovinazzi at Alfa Romeo in 2022, becoming the first Chinese F1 driver

  • November 16, 2021 at 3:47 pm

    Grande ampliação na formula 1 de publico, patrocinio e audiencia, com a vinda do piloto chines. Pelo seu historico e pelas suas palavras esta chegando com confiança e vontade, alem é claro, de estar trazendo patrocinio.

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