Friday is going to be a special day for Alpine academy driver Guanyu Zhou as he takes to the wheel of the A521 to make his official debut in an F1 session. He’ll be replacing Fernando Alonso in FP1.
The Chinese star is currently in his third season in FIA Formula 2 with UNI-Virtuosi Racing; after finishing 7th and 6th in 2019 and 2020 respectively, the 22-year-old sits on top of the 2021 standings thanks to two wins so far this year. He’s five points ahead of fellow Alpine academy driver Oscar Piastri following the first three rounds.
Zhou says the chance to take part in FP1 is another step towards the ultimate target of earning a spot on the F1 grid.
Guanyu Zhou: “Driving in FP1 at a Formula 1 Grand Prix weekend is like a dream coming true and another step closer to my ultimate goal of becoming a Formula 1 driver. It’s going to be a very special moment. I’m preparing myself as much as I can to be ready and also ensure that I’m able to complete all the targets and plans that the team have set me to do. There have not been many Chinese drivers in Formula 1, so to be behind the wheel of an F1 car during a race weekend is going to be a very proud feeling. It’s going to be even more special that I’m driving Fernando’s car as he inspired me to pursue a career in racing when I was young. I’m very happy with my achievements so far and I’m very thankful for the support I have from those around me. My aim is to maximise this opportunity and I’m really looking forward to it.”
Laurent Rossi, Chief Executive Officer, Alpine: “The challenge for young drivers to get into F1 is incredibly hard, and we are proud to support upcoming talent on this road. In his role as Test Driver Guanyu has participated in test and simulator sessions, so running a free practice in a current car is a logical and important step for one of the Academy’s brightest stars. This experience will greatly help him as he makes very solid progress towards the ultimate target that constitutes a full-time F1 seat.”
Mia Sharizman, Alpine Academy Director: “I am delighted to see Zhou’s development and progress from when he first set foot in the Academy in 2019 to having his first official FP1 session this weekend at the Austrian Grand Prix in Formula 1. It has been a long but rewarding process with Zhou putting the hard work in behind the scenes to get to this point in his career. The fact that he is now leading the Formula 2 Championship is proof of this hard work and dedication and we are all looking forward to seeing him in a Formula 1 car this weekend.”
【Announcement】— Guanyu Zhou (@gyzhou_33) June 28, 2021
I’ll be driving FP1 in #AustrianGP with @AlpineF1Team !
Thanks for the opportunity! Can’t wait, going to be a special day, 🇨🇳 proud moment. See you all on track ✌🏼
参加 #F1 奥地利大奖赛 第一节练习赛！ pic.twitter.com/vG6qeAHiXo