Alfa Romeo has a new season to gear up for and 2 new drivers in the grid. Valterri Bottas and Guanyu Zhou will be replacing Kimi Räikkönen and Antonio Giovinazzi from the 2022 season onwards. Bottas has completed 4 seasons with Mercedes between 2017 and 2021 and has been drivers’ championship runner-up twice, in 2019 and 2020.
But the Italian team have their expectations high with Zhou who is set to make his Formula One debut this season. Alfa believes their Chinese driver will be their ‘very own’ Max Verstappen and can make a serious challenge. The driver currently undergoing simulator training is already pipped to be the next prodigy by team boss Frederic Vasseur.
Alpha Romeo – A Big step for Guanyu Zhou
Guanyu Zhou will be driving for Alfa Romeo driver in the 2022 Formula One World Championship pairing up with Valterri Bottas. The Shanghai-born racer competed in the FIA Formula 2 Championship for UNI-Virtuosi Racing from 2019 to 2021 and finished 3rd in the 2021 standings acing 4 wins and 9 podiums across the season.
Alfa Romeo finished the 2021 season 9th in the Constructors’ Championship with 13 points. But after the retirement of Räikkönen was announced, the Italian team decided to sign Bottas as his replacement and give a shot to F2 graduate Zhou to replace Giovinazzi.
Zhou was a product of the Alpine Academy run by French Constructors Alpine and Renault. Following the 2021 season, he signed for Alfa becoming the first Chinese driver to race in Formula One. In an interview with RacingNews365.com, Alfa Romeo boss Frederic Vasseur spoke highly of the rookie and will be patient with the driver.
“F1 is a big challenge, but he showed in F2 that he has a rational approach, a methodical approach. When he came to the factory [at Hinwil], he was very lucid on the different aspects. The level of competition in F1 is very high. We don’t have 25 days of testing or practise before the season. But we’ll give him time to improve, for sure, without the pressure of results.”
“Also mainly due to the fact that we’ll have a new car, we have [next to] no testing… three days of testing per driver. But I think he’s a clever guy. He has a good [approach].” Vasseur compared the rise of Zhou to that of current World Champion Max Verstappen and believe he will prove it as the season unravels itself.