Zhou Guanyu: Living the dream

Published on 13 June 2023 at 20:00

Megan Taylor


Zhou Guanyu is the first-ever Chinese driver in Formula 1 and perhaps one of the quietest. The Alfa Romeo driver has been on quite a journey to Formula 1.


Like all drivers, Zhou started his career in Karts. Up until 2012, Zhou raced in China, but his family decided to move to the UK for more ‘competitive’ driving opportunities. Throughout different championships, Zhou became teammates with fellow Formula 1 drivers. Including Lando Norris.




It didn’t take Zhou long to find himself in the formula series. The Ferrari driver academy took an interest in Zhou and signed him. He proved himself with an impressive start to Formula 4. He finished second place in the 2015 Italian Formula 4 championship.




Zhou spent three years in Formula 3. During his first year, he had an up-and-down performance. It was a promising beginning, but he did face problems throughout the season and finished in thirteenth.

In the second year of Formula 3, Zhou raced under Prema. A very successful team to this day. Many Formula 1 drivers, including Lance Stroll and Mick Schumacher, have driven under Prema in their careers. He made a good improvement in his second year, finishing eighth overall.

He continued his journey with Prema racing in his final year in Formula 3. Multiple retirements made his results unpredictable. However, he had three poles and two wins which equalled his final standings in 2017. He also left the Ferrari driver academy and joined the Renault sports academy.


2019- 2021 FIA FORMULA 2


After three years, Zhou moved up to Formula 2. And for the next three years, he made some significant progress.


In 2019, the same year of the devastating crash of his Renault teammate Anthoine Hubert, Zhou was the most impressive Rookie of the season.


2020, the pandemic nightmare wasn’t all bad for Zhou. He was the season's favourite after finishing with the most points for a Rookie last season. Despite some rough patches and disappointing results, Zhou claimed his first Grand Prix victory in Sochi.


Renault rebranded as Alpine, and in 2021 Zhou had his first practice session in Formula 1. This was a significant event in his career. He finally had a taste of the dream he had since he was a child.  

This was when Alfa Romeo had a peaked interest in the Chinese driver. Their driver lineup was to be Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu for the 2022 season.


2022- 2023 Formula 1


Remarkably the Rookie scored on his debut race, but sadly it wasn’t a smooth season. Scoring low points and having a terrible collision during the British Grand Prix. A collision with the young Mercedes Brit George Russell. Zhou slid across the track on his halo and flipped through the air, crashing into the wired fence separating the fans and the track. It was by far the worse crash of the season. Thankfully the Halo served its purpose, and Zhou came out just fine.

Despite his low eighteenth finish Alfa Romeo still have faith in their Rookie and gave him a contract for 2023.

The Alfa Romeo principal Frederic Vasseur, that scouted Zhou, has since moved to Ferrari.


The twenty-four-year-old is dedicated to racing, even moving countries to progress. Throughout his career, he has missed a reliable car. Hopefully, in future, we will see his full potential.

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