Sauber driver Zhou Guanyu speaks about his childhood F1 idol, says 'the man next to me was racing then'

Amid the ongoing race weekend in Shanghai, F1 released a documentary centric on Zhou Guanyu. In the long feature, Guanyu opens up about his dedication to F1.

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Shubham Shekhar
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Zhou Guanyu

Zhou Guanyu (Source: Twitter / X)

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As Formula 1 made a blistering comeback in China on Friday, Sauber driver Zhou Guanyu created history as he became the first Chinese driver to race in Shanghai. Guanyu made some amazing efforts in the sprint qualification round as he clinched the tenth position.

Amid the ongoing race weekend in Shanghai, F1 released a documentary centric on Guanyu. In the long feature, Guanyu opens up about his dedication to F1 and how he had a fondness for Aston Martin driver Fernando Alonso in his childhood.

He said, “My first race I watched back in 2004. The man sitting next to me was racing. For me, it’s been 20 years waiting for this grand prix and let’s say this journey has been not extremely easy, just because of where I’m coming from.”

“Once in F1 every year, when you realize that the home race is not happening, two years in a row, we try to kind of do your best to maintain your seat and then to be here today …” he said with obvious pleasure.

The huge craze for Zhou Guanyu in the Chinese GP!

Being the first Chinese driver in Formula 1 comes with immense pressure, as Zhou is keenly aware of his role as a role model back home. China lacks a strong tradition in Autosport, with limited opportunities for karting and even fewer chances in single-seater racing. This led Zhou to pursue his career in Europe, where he could find more avenues for development.

With no other Chinese drivers in the F1 feeder series like F2 and F3, the country may have to wait a while for another talent to emerge. Zhou's financial backing undoubtedly plays a role in his journey, but he acknowledges that it takes time for motorsport to establish itself in a country like China. He believes it may be another decade before more young talents surface.

Despite the challenges, the anticipation surrounding Zhou's participation in the F1 event is immense. Ticket sales for the event sold out within minutes, underscoring the excitement among fans. For F1, returning to China is significant as it sees the country as a crucial market for expanding the sport. After undergoing significant changes, F1 is eager to reestablish its presence in China and tap into its potential for growth.

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