Guanyu Zhou will become the first ever Chinese Formula 1 driver next season, with Alfa Romeo confirming that he will partner Valtteri Bottas.
The announcement completes the 2022 Formula 1 grid, with all teams having now confirmed next year’s line-up.
Zhou is currently racing in Formula 2 in what is his third season in the series. With two rounds left of this year’s championship, he sits second to Alpine junior Oscar Piastri in the drivers’ standings.
Antonio Giovinazzi will depart from the Alfa Romeo team and could end up being part of the Ferrari World Endurance Championship team with its new hypercar programme, or move to Formula E.
Zhou, who has taken three race victories so far in F2 this year and comes with significant financial backing, is part of the Alpine driver academy and was preferred over fellow F2 and Alpine junior driver Piastri who was announced as Alpine’s reserve F1 driver earlier this morning.
Sauber junior Théo Pourchaire was also a possible option for Alfa Romeo. Spiritually still part of the team, Sauber has been keen to see one of its own juniors graduate into the F1 seat but Zhou will get the chance in 2022.
Alfa said that it was expecting a flood of new Chinese fans to get behind the team.
“To be the first ever Chinese driver in Formula 1 is a breakthrough for Chinese motor sport history,” said Zhou. “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.
“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.
“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. Next year the target will be to learn as much as possible and as quickly as possible.”
Team principal Frédéric Vasseur focused on the attention that signing Zhou would draw in his home country.
“We are looking forward to welcoming all the new Chinese fans who will join the team,” he said. “Alfa Romeo is a historical brand and one that embodies the spirit of Formula 1 and we will do our utmost to make the experience of our sport a great one in China.
“It is a pleasure to welcome Guanyu Zhou. 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.”