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January 16, 2021

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Zhou eyes Super License to pursue his F1 dream

FORMULA Two driver Zhou Guanyu’s goal for the 2021 season is to collect enough points to acquire the FIA Super License and become an F1 reserve driver at the earliest.

“Currently, I’m the closest one for an F1 seat among all the Chinese drivers,” the 22-year-old Shanghai native said.

Zhou was the first driver from the Chinese mainland to win a seat as a development driver with an F1 team when he got the nod from Renault at the beginning of 2019. It was also his debut season in F2, where he won one pole position and reached the podium five times before finishing seventh in the year-end drivers’ standing.

He then became Renault’s test driver in 2020 and clinched his first F2 win in Russia last September. He ranked sixth in the drivers’ standing at the end of last year.

“If it were not for the mechanical problems I encountered in the latter part of last season, I would have had the chance to collect the 40 points needed for a Super License,” Zhou told Shanghai Daily.

“I have some 20 points now and will collect the rest this year to pursue the dream of becoming the first Chinese F1 driver.”

Zhou did drive a Renault F1 car in front of his home fans two years ago when the 2019 F1 Chinese Grand Prix presented a roadshow to mark the F1’s historic 1,000th race.

“I had never imagined myself sitting in an F1 car in front of home fans,” said Zhou.

“With this cooperation with Juss Event, I believe there will be more such opportunities in the future. If the 2021 Chinese GP does happen, I might get the chance to sit in the cabin again and help promote the sport.”

Zhou started karting at the age of 7, and moved to the UK for a more competitive racing environment. He was a member of the Ferrari Driver Academy from 2015 to 2018.

“The racing environment overseas offered more systematic training and racing plans, as well as a more professional team to help me improve,” he said. “I also got the chance to communicate with other young foreign drivers when we competed together.”

Zhou took part in the pre-season testing for Renault’s new RS20 car last month in Abu Dhabi, where he met two-time world champion Fernando Alonso. The Spaniard will be racing for Renault in the coming season.

“It was great to meet my childhood idol in the same team pit,” said Zhou. “Alonso got used to the car quickly and tested it for long-distance driving. My job was more about testing new things for RS20, including the engine, electricity-saving strategy and tire pressure.”

Given the uncertain development of the coronavirus in the UK, Zhou has been training by himself in Shanghai and keeping himself fit for the new F2 season.


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