Guanyu Zhou: First Chinese language driver is big for Alfa and F1, says Vasseur

The 22-year-old will accomplice skilled Finnish driver Valtteri Bottas, who’s becoming a member of from Mercedes after 5 seasons alongside seven-times world champion Lewis Hamilton, in an all-new line-up.

Zhou takes the place of Ferrari-backed Italian driver Antonio Giovinazzi, whereas Finnish veteran Kimi Raikkonen is retiring.

“The choice is essential for the way forward for the corporate,” stated Vasseur, whose crew are ninth out of 10 within the constructors’ standings.

“It was not solely based mostly on the truth that he’s Chinese language however will probably be a mega-push for the corporate, for sponsors and I feel additionally for F1 typically,” he informed Reuters.

“He is a front-runner in F2, he received in Bahrain and Silverstone this season and continues to be ready to win the championship and it is an excellent mixture on the finish. I am greater than optimistic.”

Guanyu Zhou of China and UNI-Virtuosi Racing prepares to drive during sprint race 1 of Round 6:Sochi of the Formula 2 Championship at Sochi Autodrom on September 25, 2021 in Sochi, Russia.

Zhou is a check driver for the Renault-owned Alpine F1 crew this season, and drove their automotive in Friday apply in Austria final July.

He’s additionally second within the Formulation Two standings, with two weekends to return in Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi.

“I dreamt from a younger age of climbing as excessive as I can in a sport that I’m keen about and now the dream has come true,” stated Zhou in a crew assertion.

“To be the primary ever Chinese language driver in Formulation One is a breakthrough for Chinese language motorsport historical past.”

Vasseur stated Zhou could be severing his ties with Alpine.

“He is a totally free agent, free administration … I do not need to have somebody linked with one other crew who if every little thing goes properly will go away. This was not an possibility in any respect for me,” he stated.

Zhou is prone to deliver appreciable backing from China, some stories suggesting as a lot as $30 million, however Vasseur wouldn’t be drawn on the main points or length of the contract.

“We’re 200% centered on the efficiency of the crew and we do not have to cover the truth that the finances is a part of the efficiency and we’re additionally concentrating on to get to the associated fee cap as a result of it is an vital step for us,” he stated.

Formulation One launched a $145 million finances cap this season, with the determine set to drop to $135 million in 2023.

Massive groups have to chop their spending to satisfy the cap whereas small groups like Alfa, run by Swiss-based Sauber, are aiming to draw extra funding to succeed in the restrict and compete on equal phrases.

“On prime of this constructive information on the advertising and marketing and finances facet, we are able to have a driver who is ready to win races in F2. It is an ideal mixture,” stated Vasseur.

He felt the absence of a Chinese language race from the calendar subsequent season because of the COVID-19 pandemic would assist scale back the fast stress on the rookie.

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