Guanyu Zhou has officially joined Alfa Romeo for 2022 F1 season where he will partner Valtteri Bottas, with Antonio Giovinazzi consequently losing his seat after three seasons.
Zhou currently sits second in this year’s F2 championship behind his fellow Alpine Academy member – Oscar Piastri with two rounds left, yet huge financial backing from China and support from Alpine has seen the 22 year-old secure a promotion to F1 with Alfa Romeo.
This move will also see Zhou part company with Alpine Academy where he has been a member since the 2019 season.
This announcement also sees Zhou become the first Chinese driver to officially race in F1 full-time and complete the 2022 grid, after Ma Qinghua only participated in five FP1 sessions for HRT and Caterham across 2012-13 seasons.
Speaking on securing promotion from F2 to F1 and joining Alfa Romeo, Zhou said: “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.”
Zhou went on to describe the opportunity to race for Alfa Romeo alongside Valtteri Bottas as a “privilege” and added that he feels “well prepared for the immense challenge of Formula 1,” whist he hailed Bottas as “a proven world-class talent” to lead the team.
The 22 year-old though has set a small target for his rookie season as he explained: “Next year the target will be to learn as much as possible and as quickly as possible.”
On the pressure of being the first Chinese driver to race in F1, Zhou added: “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.”
Alfa Romeo Team Principal, Frederic Vasseur described Zhou’s arrival as “a pleasure” and praised the 22 year-old as “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 One.”
On the prospect of Zhou partnering Bottas, Vasseur iterated that he is “proud” of his new driver line-up and is “confident Zhou will form a very successful partnership with Valtteri.”
Official confirmation of Zhou’s move will see a full driver line-up change at Alfa Romeo for the first time since 2019, when Kimi Raikkonen and Giovinazzi replaced Charles Leclerc and Marcus Ericsson respectively.
Raikkonen has already announced that he is retiring from F1 at end of this season, whilst Giovinazzi’s future is unclear but a Test Driver role at Ferrari is likely amongst his options for next season, after Callum Ilott signed for a full-time IndyCar seat in 2022 with Juncos Hollinger Racing.
Vasseur paid tribute to Giovinazzi for his efforts over the last three seasons, as he said: “As we part ways, we will cherish the memories of the good times and learn lessons from the bad ones, knowing these moments all made us grow together as a team.
“We wish Antonio the best for his future after the 2021 season: before then, we still have three races to achieve some good results together and finish the year strongly.”
Across at Alpine, Piastri has been confirmed as Zhou’s replacement as Test & Reserve Driver next season with selected FP1 outings alongside a substantial testing programme.
This announcement also means that the entire F1 grid for 2022 is now official with other big moves including George Russell moving to Mercedes and Alex Albon replacing the Brit at Williams.
|Alfa Romeo||Valtteri Bottas||Guanyu Zhou|
|AlphaTauri||Pierre Gasly||Yuki Tsunoda|
|Alpine||Esteban Ocon||Fernando Alonso|
|Aston Martin||Lance Stroll||Sebastian Vettel|
|Ferrari||Charles Leclerc||Carlos Sainz|
|Haas||Nikita Mazepin||Mick Schumacher|
|McLaren||Lando Norris||Daniel Ricciardo|
|Mercedes||Lewis Hamilton||George Russell|
|Red Bull||Max Verstappen||Sergio Perez|
|Williams||Alex Albon||Nicholas Latifi|