Zhou Guanyu’s massive support a good sign for F1 in China

Formula 1 could finally extract the full potential of the Chinese market courtesy of Zhou Guanyu.

Zhou Guanyu’s massive support a good sign for F1 in China

Zhou Guanyu (via IMAGO)

Formula 1 is the pinnacle of motorsport. The sport spans across five continents and over twenty countries. Despite F1’s rapid global expansion, it faced a major hurdle in the world’s second biggest economy, China. However, things seemed to be changing as Zhou Guanyu received immense support at the Chinese GP this weekend.

Zhou Guanyu became the first-ever Chinese F1 driver when he was signed by Alfa Romeo (now Stake F1) in 2022. The 24-year-old brought in heavy commercial backing from Chinese sponsors. However, Guanyu had to wait two years before fulfilling his dream of racing at his home Grand Prix.

Shanghai welcomed its local hero with open arms. Hundreds of thousands of fans cheered for Zhou Guanyu over the weekend. So much so, that the 24-year-old was in tears after the race. Certainly, this was a sign of the importance Formula 1 now had in the lucrative Chinese market. A sign that could further boost the sport’s commercial efforts under Liberty Media.

F1 can finally exploit the Chinese market

China has the largest automotive industry in the world with dozens of homegrown OEMs, all having tie-ups with a global carmaker. Zhou Guanyu’s presence will attract more fans from the 1.3 billion Chinese population. Subsequently, F1 could witness millions of new fans in the coming years if the 24-year-old succeeds in the sport.

zhou guanyu alfa romeo sauber
Zhou Guanyu (via IMAGO)

A rise in Chinese fans would be perfect for Formula 1 as the sport focuses on becoming more profitable for its teams. As more Chinese companies become interested in sponsoring F1 teams. Moreover, this could open the doors for further F1 expansion in all of Asia.

Formula 1’s focus on the United States had a great impact on the sport’s finances. F1 teams have finally become financially stable. Mercedes even reported a turnover of over $500 million last year, a first in the sport’s history. China being the next biggest economy after the US could have a similar financial impact on the sport. However, it must be noted that the sport would need a completely new strategy to tackle the Asian giant.

Certainly, Zhou Guanyu’s popularity is a great sign for Formula 1 in China. However, the Chinese driver is yet to secure a contract for next season. As such, F1’s growth in the Asian giant would depend largely on whether Guanyu stays on the grid for the foreseeable future.

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