Zhou: I always said I deserved to be in F1
China’s premiere Formula 1 Driver Zhou Guanyu enjoyed a dream start to his career with Alfa Romeo in the season opener of the 2022 Bahrain Grand Prix on Sunday, with a points finish that silenced his doubters.
The 22-year-old had already made a strong impression by lining up 15th on the grid after reaching the second stage of qualifying on Saturday. He followed that up with a drive in the paying final position in 10th.
“It’s amazing, I’m so speechless, you know?” The 22-year-old, the only rookie on the pitch this year, told F1 TV after the race. “It was (an) emotional race, so intense.
“Scoring my first points in Formula 1 on my debut is something I would have dreamed of a year or two weeks ago.
It was a fight back race for the rookie
Zhou, who is a teammate of former Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas, lost time at one point as he had to reset his car’s settings after it went into anti-stall mode.
But he fought back with a series of overtakes, including a pass over seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton, who had just come out of the pits and was looking for grip on his cold tyres. Bottas finished sixth, giving Alfa Romeo a double
“I don’t know how that confidence comes,” Zhou said when asked about his passing maneuvers. “But I think it’s the eagerness that I want to finish in the points.”
Zhou moved to Formula 1 after finishing third overall in Formula 2’s feeder series last year.
Some have questioned whether the 22-year-old, who comes with financial backing, belongs on the grid, especially when Formula 2 champion Oscar Piastri, who is reserve for French manufacturer Alpine, was unable to clinch a seat race.
Zhou said his performance on Sunday proved his doubters wrong
“I always said I deserved to be here and today I think I showed it all,” he said. “It’s a great relief. A huge reward for us, and it’s a day I (will) never forget.
Bottas was happy that his rookie teammate scored points and added: “I’m very happy with the result tonight: for me, but especially for the team, with two cars in the points, and for Zhou who scored points. in his first race.
“It’s a great way to start the season: there are still things to improve, of course, but we’re only at the first race of the year. Our priority was reliability and I’m happy to have finished with both cars because the speed is there.
“Everyone did a good job and we are moving in the right direction,” Bottas concluded. (Reporting by Abhishek TakleAdditional reporting by Grandprix247)
Points! Well done boys. A big effort, good overtaking and we show that this year we are here to fight.
— Alfa Romeo F1 Team ORLEN (@alfaromeoorlen) March 20, 2022