After a solid but quiet start to his career, China’s first Formula 1 driver looks set to keep his seat at Alfa Romeo for 2023.
Even before he beat experienced teammate Valtteri Bottas to Q3 at Silverstone, authoritative media sources were declaring that Guanyu Zhou had done enough to earn another contract.
“He’s definitely one of the best rookies we’ve ever had in our team,” said experienced team manager Beat Zehnder.
Zehnder marvelled that most rookies would have racked up “at least one or two crashes” by this point of their rookie season, but 23-year-old Zhou had been particularly impressive.
When the big crash did happen, on lap 1 of Sunday’s British GP at Silverstone, it was truly terrifying – but it was not Zhou’s fault as he was tipped upside down and into the spectator fencing.
It is clear that the incident, after which Zhou hailed the Halo safety innovation for saving his life, is not giving Alfa Romeo cause to rethink their satisfaction with the Chinese.
“If he continues like this, it would be best for our company if we continue with him,” team boss Frederic Vasseur told the German broadcaster ntv.
The Frenchman said Zhou and Finn Bottas are working together “perfectly”.
“He’s a nice guy, very professional and team-oriented,” said Vasseur.
“He’s really focused on the performance of the whole group. That’s what you want as a team boss. Yes, he is doing a great job.”
Zhou also seems to be fitting in well in the F1 paddock, joking that he is following in Lewis Hamilton’s footsteps by indulging in his love for fashion.
“Some drivers may only see themselves in motorsport, but I’m also passionate about design. I love fashion,” he says.
“We have a good Thursday cat walk,” he joked when asked about Hamilton. “Lewis may be on a different level, but I’m just happy when I express myself.”
Zhou also thinks he is making an impact on the popularity of F1 in China.
“This year we can already see a difference, a step forward,” he said.
“It’s amazing to have two consecutive appearances in Q3 – I feel like I’m growing as a Formula 1 driver and I’m really happy about it.”
Nonetheless, he has nothing to report yet about a signed and sealed 2023 contract.
“I’m not really too worried about the future yet,” he said. “If everything plays out as planned I see no reason to worry about what’s coming up in the plan for next year.”