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Zhou Aims for Emotional Victory at Home Grand Prix

Zhou Aims for Emotional Victory at Home Grand Prix

18/04/2024

At his first home Grand Prix, Guanyu Zhou seeks both emotional connection and crucial points amid a challenging season.

Guanyu Zhou’s season is on a worrying slope: the Kick Sauber driver comes off a series of last places in Q1 and sees no light at the end of the tunnel…

Can the trend reverse this weekend? It would be magical for the Chinese, who for the first time in his career, will race in his native country.

Eager to race in front of his home crowd and the stand in his colors (7000 seats sold very quickly), Guanyu Zhou currently prefers to focus on strong emotions—rather than think about his poor results from the last Grands Prix.

“It’s incredible, of course, to finally have the chance to race at home, which I’ve obviously missed over the past two seasons, since I started my career in Formula 1.”

“It’s great to be back, to see all the circuit facilities, while I used to be on the other side of the track, in the stands, watching, being an F1 fan. It’s wonderful to come back here as an F1 driver.”

“I’m looking forward to it, with many mixed emotions, of course, throughout the weekend. I want to treat it like a normal race weekend, but I’m sure there will be a lot of supporters coming throughout the day. I’m excited to drive on the track for the first time tomorrow. I’ve been very busy lately, but I’ve had a lot of fun so far.”

The arrival of Guanyu Zhou has helped boost the popularity of F1 in China – and the local driver has seen it clearly in Shanghai since the start of the week.

“It has been a huge change, even for me. I came from the city this morning, and the roads [toward] the circuit are completely different from what they were before.”

“Generally, since the start of the 2022 season, Formula 1 has really developed, mainly it’s great to see the model improve in a positive way.”

“I’m happy to see that I’m not the only one here, I think many young (Chinese) drivers aged 10, 6, 8 years old, [are starting] to race already, even here or in Europe, trying to pursue this journey to Formula 1. It’s wonderful to represent the country, to race for the first time here.”

This ‘sprint format’ weekend could spice up the hierarchy and create a lot of uncertainties on a circuit where F1 hasn’t raced for 5 years.

Two races mean twice as many chances for Guanyu Zhou to score points. But realistically, can he even consider finishing in the top 8 or top 10 given the previous Grands Prix?

“I will have two opportunities this weekend. It seems very interesting, even though we don’t have many practice sessions, after missing a few years [on this circuit]. But I am sure we have the potential.”

“The race pace has been decent recently, and from my side, I think there are things to improve. I hope to have a cleaner Friday and prepare well for the qualifying sessions. There are points up for grabs but, as we have seen, it’s a very complex field. The battle in the middle of the grid is very tight among all the cars, so we need to make sure the details are right and seize the opportunities.”

Twenty years ago, Zhou watched his first GP with Alonso…

Regardless, Guanyu Zhou will feel a lot of emotions this weekend. Especially racing alongside Fernando Alonso, a driver he followed twenty years ago!

“The first race I watched was in 2004, and the man sitting next to me (Alonso, at the press conference) was already racing in F1.”

“For me, it’s been 20 years waiting for this Grand Prix, this journey hasn’t been extremely easy, simply because of where I come from. I tried to win at least a large number of races in the junior formulas to be here, and then I watched F1 every year.”

“When I realized that my home Grand Prix would not take place for two years in a row, [the goal was] to do his best to retain his place in F1 and be here today. For my part, I am still focused on my job. I know there’s a mix of emotions as we approach this weekend, especially Sunday with the national anthem and the memories that come to mind.”

“But even though I’m a race driver, the most important and critical thing is to do the right job on the track, that is, to try to score points, to give the maximum of what I can do with the package, with the car we have. I think we have potential, even if it’s not the circuit I know best in terms of layout, I have never driven a single-seater here. I still feel that we have a good opportunity with this format. From my side, I think we need to focus on that.”

Zhou Aims for Emotional Victory at Home Grand Prix

Zhou Aims for Emotional Victory at Home Grand Prix. Zhou Aims for Emotional Victory at Home Grand Prix

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