Zhou: After criticism and insults, the first point made in Bahrain seemed 'massive'

Zhou Guanyu claims that earning a point on his Formula 1 debut this year in Bahrain was "massive" in light of the criticism and vitriol he received after being signed by Alfa Romeo.

Valterri Bottas (right) and Guanyu Zhou in a file photo. (Image: Twitter/ F1)
By Mahaksh Chauhan | Dec 28, 2022 | 2 Min Read follow icon Follow Us

This year, Zhou joined Alfa Romeo alongside Valtteri Bottas to form a brand-new driver lineup for the Swiss-based team, making him the first Chinese driver to compete in Formula One. Online trolls accused Zhou of only being selected for the seat because of his nationality and the related sponsorship before his F1 debut, and he even endured racist abuse. On his racing debut in Bahrain, Zhou fought back after entering anti-stall at the beginning and dropping to the back of the pack to finish in tenth place.


When his contract extension at Alfa Romeo was officially revealed in 2023, Zhou claimed that people’s reactions had been “totally different” from when he was first introduced to the company. I’m appreciative, he continued. I’ve accomplished the things I set out to do after all the years I’ve been through. Zhou would place in the top 10 in Canada and Italy as well, making Bahrain his season’s second-highest point total. Bottas outperformed him 49-6 for the year, but 46 of those points came in the first nine races, when Alfa Romeo was doing better.

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Early in the season, Zhou battled with unreliability, finishing last in Miami, Spain, and Azerbaijan, and lacking Bottas’s speed for more than one lap in qualification. But for Zhou, the weekend of the Canadian Grand Prix was a turning moment. He managed wet conditions in qualifying to make it to Q3 for the first time, then on Sunday, he put up a foot-perfect performance to finish eighth. Zhou remarked, “That was something I never anticipated.” “The road in Canada is rough. Because of the walls, it resembles a street circuit with limited room for mistakes or exits.