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Zhou Guanyu’s Path To Becoming F1’s First Chinese Driver

Uncover the story of China’s top racing talent, Zhou Guanyu and his journey towards Formula 1.

Zhou Guanyu is the first, and so far the only, Chinese driver to start a World Championship Formula One race. Driving for Kick Sauber, he is now in his third season of the sport. Zhou has had a couple of impressive drives since his debut in a struggling team.

Zhou will drive in his first home race this weekend at the Chinese Grand Prix since becoming an F1 driver. Read on to learn how the Chinese talent got here.

Karting

Between 2010 and 2013, Zhou Guanyu competed in the Rotax Mini Max, Mini Max, Rotax Junior, Rotax Max Junior and Junior classes of karting competitions. In 2013, he was the Rotax Junior Max champion of the Super 1 National Champion, as well as the Junior champion of the Rotax Max Euro Challenge.

In 2014, Zhou advanced to the Rotax Max Senior, KF and Senior classes. His best finish was 2nd in the Senior class of the Rotax Max Euro Challenge.

Formula 4

Zhou Guanyu made his Formula 4 debut at the Italian F4 Winter Trophy, racing for Prema. He was 3rd overall after finishing both races in P3.

Zhou’s first full season in the Formula 4 tier was at the 2015 Italian F4 Championship. He had a great rookie season, finishing P2 in the Drivers’ Championship. Among his 9 podium finishes, 3 were race wins. He competed in the first three rounds of the 2015 ADAC Formula 4 Championship, securing 2 podium finishes.

Formula 3

Zhou Guanyu stepped up to Formula 3 the following year. He made his debut at the 2016 FIA Formula 3 European Championship. With 2 podium finishes, he was P13 in the Drivers’ Championship. He was P10 in the qualifying race at the 2016 Masters of Formula 3 but finished the main race in P16. At the 2016 Macau Grand Prix qualifying race, he had retired. He went on to finish the main race in P15. Also in 2016, he was P6 in the final standings of the Toyota Racing Series.

Zhou returned to the FIA Formula 3 European Championship for the 2017 season. He managed 5 podium finishes and was P8 in the Drivers’ Championship. At the 2017 Macau Grand Prix, the Chinese driver was P10 in the qualification race and P8 in the main race.

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The following year, he was once again P8 in the Drivers’ Championship of the FIA Formula 3 European Championship. He won the first race of the season, as well as the first race of the final round. He had achieved 4 further podium finishes. Zhou started the main race of the 2018 Macau Grand Prix in P24 but had a great recovery drive to finish the main race in P11.

A few years later, he won the title of the 2021 F3 Asian Championship. He achieved 11 podium finishes, 4 of which were race wins.

Formula 2

Zhou Guanyu made his Formula 2 debut at the 2019 Formula 2 Championship. He managed 5 podium finishes and was P7 in the Drivers’ Championship. The following season he was P6 in the Drivers’ Championship, following 6 podium finishes including 1 race win.

He had a better year at the 2021 Formula 2 Championship. After winning 4 races and achieving 5 further podium finishes, Zhou finished P3 in the Drivers’ Championship behind Oscar Piastri and Robert Shwartzman.

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In 2022, he made his Formula 1 debut, driving for Alfa Romeo alongside Valtteri Bottas. In a struggling car, Zhou has held his own, maintaining the team’s confidence in keeping him as their driver up till now.

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