China’s first full-time Formula 1 driver, Zhou Guanyu, and Alfa Romeo agreed on a contract extension for the 2023 season, both parties confirmed on Tuesday.
Zhou Guanyu, the first Formula 1 race driver from China, will remain with the Hinwil-based team, Alfa Romeo F1 Team ORLEN, for a second season, partnering with Finn racer Valtteri Bottas, who is on a multi-year deal with the outfit.
His rookie season set off at the inaugural event, the Bahrain Grand Prix, where he scored his first point at the pinnacle of motorsport, finishing in 10th place.
Following the announcement of his contract extension, the 23-year-old said: “I am happy and grateful to Alfa Romeo F1 Team ORLEN for the opportunity to be part of the team for another season.
“Making it to Formula One was a dream come true, and the feeling of competing for the first time in a race will live with me forever. The team has been incredibly supportive, welcoming me from day one and helping me adapt to the most complex series in motorsport.”
The Shanghai-born driver contested Formula One feeder series, the FIA Formula 2 Championship, from 2019 to 2021.
His last year in the series saw him ending third in the overall driver’s standings before graduating to Formula One.
Moreover, he stepped into the podium on 20 occasions of 72 entries, winning five races and claiming three pole positions.
Speaking about his future, Guanyu stressed: “There is more that I want to achieve in this sport and with the team, and the hard work we have put together since the start of the year is just the first step towards where we want to be next season. There is still a lot to learn, a lot to develop, but I am confident in our work: I am looking forward to the next chapter of our story together.
A former member of Ferrari and Alpine Driver’s Academies, his first outing with Formula One machinery came in 2020 while acting as a test driver for the Renault F1 Team and continued into 2021 with the team renamed Alpine F1.
Once the 2021 season concluded, he took part in the two-day Young Driver Test held in Abu Dhabi on the Yas Marina Circuit, completing 150 laps at the wheel of the Alfa Romeo C41 and C38.
Frederic Vasseur, Team Principal, commented about the driver’s new deal with the team: “I am looking forward to continuing working with Zhou. From day one with the team at the Abu Dhabi test last year, he has impressed me with his approach to work and this is always a very positive trait.
“We knew he was quick, but the way he adapted to Formula One in such a short time has been one of the best surprises of our season. He is a very nice guy; everyone on the team likes his personality and attitude. He has had the humility to ask questions and learn from the engineers, as well as Valtteri, and the intelligence to apply all the information he got to improve race after race. He will have this experience to draw on next season, and I am sure he will make another step forward as we continue to grow our team.”
Thus far into the season, Zhou Guanyu has scored six points for the squad, nailing his best result to date at the Canadian GP, crossing the finish line in eighth place.
The Alfa Romeo F1 Team ORLEN currently sits in sixth place in the Constructors’ Championship.
This weekend Formula One returns to Singapore after a two-year hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic.