Zhou Guanyu started his FIA Formula 2 career in 2019. After three seasons with Virtuosi (under various names) he would graduate to F1 with Alfa Romeo in 2022.

In Zhou’s rookie season, he raced in a Renault liveried UNI- Virtuosi alongside the experienced Luca Ghiotto.

This season was particularly tricky for rookie drivers like Zhou. Many of the drivers on the grid this season already had multiple years of experience. For example, 2019’s F2 champion, Nyck de Vries, had already competed in two seasons prior to this.

Fifth in the standings with five podiums made him one to watch going into 2020 and earned him the label of highest finishing rookie.

His second season in F2 wasn’t as competitive for Zhou as many would’ve expected. With many more impressive Alpine (formally Renault) Academy Drivers coming through the ranks such as Oscar Piastri and Christian Lundgaard, the pressure to perform increased.

Ghiotto left Virtuosi to join Hitech and was replaced by the very fast Brit, Callum Ilott.

In the same car, Ilott challenged Mick Schumacher for the title, but Zhou seemingly struggled for pace for the majority of the season, but still managed to finish sixth overall, and picked up his maiden victory in Sochi.

The Chinese driver’s third and final F2 season was much more positive. He finished third overall, behind the two Premas, Piastri and Robert Shwartzman.
Zhou’s championship campaign was hindered by four consecutive non-points scoring finishes across the rounds at Azerbaijan and Silverstone. 

The title of Vice Champion wasn’t too far out of sight for Zhou. He finished just nine points behind Shwartzman, but the pair were both very far back from the dominant champion, Piastri.

Now, in September 2023, Zhou signed a contract extension to stay alongside Valtteri Bottas at Alfa Romeo, credit to his strong performance so far in F1.

Many expected Alfa Romeo to finally sign their protegee, Théo Pourchaire, who joined Sauber’s young driver academy four years ago in 2019. 

Pourchaire has had a mighty junior career and currently leads the Formula 2 championship with one round remaining, ahead of Mercedes’ young driver Frederik Vesti.

However, Alfa Romeo clearly sees something special with Zhou to stick to their current driver line up and keep Pourchaire on the side-lines for now.

Although Pourchaire absolutely deserves a seat in Formula 1 in 2024, Zhou has exceeded all expectations so far in his career and has performed brilliantly alongside Bottas.

Image: Reuters

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