Zhou Guanyu

As the first Chinese driver in F1 history, Zhou Guanyu has tore down barriers and raced his way to becoming an asserted member of the F1 grid.

Born in Shanghai, Zhou has shown promise at every level of his development, completing decorated rookie campaigns and racing wheel-to-wheel with some of motorsports finest talent.

Whilst a contract extension at Alfa Romeo will ensure he stays in F1 until the end of the 2023 campaign, many questions still surround Zhou’s long-term future.

Karting and early years 

Compared to some other drivers on the F1 grid, Zhou was a relitavley late bloomer, starting in karting at the age of eight and not competing until the age of 13. But he quickly found success, winning the Rotax Max Euro Trophy (Junior) and the Super 1 National Rotax Max Junior in 2013, before finishing runner up in the Rotax Euro Challenge the following year.

His talent drew the attention of the Ferrari Driver Academy, who backed his move into single-seater racing for the 2015 season, racing in Italian Formula 4 against future F1 star Lando Norris and Robert Schwartzman. Zhou was highly successful, winning three rounds and eventually finised second in the championship.

After three years in the series, Zhou parted ways with Ferrari, and was picked up by Renault who added him to their elite F1 pro driver programme.

F2 success with Virtuosi

Zhou graduated to Formula 2 in 2019, ultimately finishing seventh in the drivers’ standings during a difficult debut season, which included the tragic death of fellow Renault junior Anthoine Hubert at Spa-Francorchamps. The newly-created Hubert award was eventually given to Zhou at the end of the season for exceptional performance during his rookie campaign.

From the archive

Difficulties continued in 2020, with a pandemic-ridden season disrupting Zhou’s upward trajectory. Despite capturing pole position for the first race of the season in Bahrain, a technical issue during a mandatory pitstop prevented him from taking his first win. Instead, Zhou had to wait until Sochi to greet the chequered flag in first place, eventually ending the season sixth in the drivers’ standings.

Fortunately a strong campaign in 2021 helped him toward a full-time seat in F1, winning the first feature race of the season in Bahrain followed by a sprint race win at Monza. Despite his best efforts, Zhou was unable to close the gap to eventual champion Oscar Piastri but was nevertheless offered a seat next to Valtteri Bottas at Alfa Romeo for the 2023 F1 season.

F1 rookie season 

In a rookie season filled with highs and lows, Zhou remained calm and confident throughout, with standout performances in Bahrain and Canada. Restricted by reliability issues, he eventually fell to 18th in the drivers’ standing with his most infamous moment taking place at the British Grand Prix – colliding with George Russell, tumbling down the Hamilton straight, and becoming wedged between a tyre wall and a wire fence.

But his consistent performances were enough to convince Alfa Romeo that he was worthy of a F1 drive, extending Zhou’s contract through until the end of the 2023 campaign.

Non Championship Races