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Guanyu Zhou I Want to Stay in F1 Until I Retire

Guanyu Zhou: “I Want to Stay in F1 Until I Retire”

17/04/2024

This weekend, Guanyu Zhou will race his first home F1 GP in China, amidst dreams of a lifelong career in the sport.

He will be the center of attention this weekend: Guanyu Zhou will compete in his first F1 weekend at home, as the sport returns to China.

The Stake F1 driver, who is currently going through a very tough phase (series of last places in Q1), is far from being the most familiar to the general public in the paddock. Let’s get to know him better.

To define himself, Guanyu Zhou thought of three words for the FOM: “F1 driver. Fashion. And… I would probably say the only F1 driver from China.”

To succeed in F1, it is better to come from Europe. A Chinese driver has notably more obstacles to overcome (or even Mexican or Japanese, to take the examples of Sergio Pérez and Yuki Tsunoda).

So how did Guanyu Zhou’s passion for F1 start, given that it was not obvious?

“The first time I tried a kart, I was seven years old. This may seem a bit old for Europeans, but it’s actually quite early for those of us coming from China.”

“It’s the passion, the speed, the noise of the engine, and the way each driver chases milliseconds, or even tenths. It makes a huge difference in this sport compared to others. There’s also a huge team spirit in general because we have people at the factory, over 600 employees, or even 1,000 people working just for two drivers.”

In the paddock, who does Guanyu Zhou get along best with? Who would he invite to dinner?

“Oh. Oscar, Fernando, and Valtteri.”

“I would probably say that Oscar [Piastri] is one of my best friends, both on and off the track. Fernando [Alonso] is also part of it; we sometimes have fun together off the track. Of course, these days, it’s a bit more difficult. We used to hang out, but now we are on different teams [Zhou was previously a reserve driver at Alpine] it’s not easy during the season, as we have very busy schedules. But these two people are probably the ones I have the most fun with.”

And if he had to go on vacation with a driver?

“I would probably choose Valtteri. I feel like he always has a lot of fun! He does some crazy things, and I find that very enjoyable.”

And if he were a team director, which two drivers would Guanyu Zhou choose?

“If I were a team director, I would probably put Fernando on my team. It may sound a bit boring, but I would probably put Oscar with him. I don’t want two world champions on my team; I want a rising star and a world champion. And it would be cheaper!”

In his career, Guanyu Zhou has received excellent but also very bad advice. The best, unsurprisingly, came from the most experienced driver in F1…

“In recent years, it’s Alonso who gave it to me. I participated in my first free practice session in Austria in 2021 and I was driving his car (at Alpine). He told me: ‘Have fun, relax, and enjoy.’ It was so nice coming from the hero of your childhood, to get in his car for the first time when you are very nervous, and at that moment, I felt everything had calmed down, that I was ready to go.”

“The worst advice… At the beginning of my career, I probably got advice from a coach. It was raining, he toured the track and the rain was going to intensify, so he told me: ‘Give it your all in the first lap.’ I put the car in the wall. On a city circuit, you can’t tell someone to give it their all in the first lap. That’s something I’ve learned not to listen to.”

Zhou still in F1 in 5 years?

On a more personal level, Guanyu Zhou is going through the most complex phase of his career. It’s not even certain at all that he will keep a seat in F1 next year – certainly not if he continues at this level of performance.

He remembers, however, that everything started well for him…

“My best memory is when I scored my first point two years ago in Bahrain. For my debut, I wasn’t expecting to score points right away, so soon. I’m very proud to have scored the first points of a Chinese driver.”

And where does he see himself in five years?

“I see myself racing in F1. I love this sport, it’s a dream for all drivers since they were young. I want to stay here and, hopefully, until I retire!”

Guanyu Zhou I Want to Stay in F1 Until I Retire

Guanyu Zhou: “I Want to Stay in F1 Until I Retire”. Guanyu Zhou: “I Want to Stay in F1 Until I Retire”. F1 2024 Guanyu Zhou: “I Want to Stay in F1 Until I Retire”

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