With the final weekend of the Formula 2 season underway, Guanyu Zhou will be looking to end his feeder series career on a high note. The Chinese driver will be graduating to Formula 1 next year with Alfa Romeo, partnering current Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas.
By Tyler Foster
“I think from my side I do like to enjoy my last weekend here in Formula 2. I may as well come back with some strong results. That would be the most important part.”
Zhou started the F2 season strongly and had the lead of the championship until Round 4 at Silverstone. He has fought closely with current championship leader and fellow Alpine Academy driver Oscar Piastri throughout the season, however has struggled in comparison over the last three rounds with just two podiums compared to Piastri’s four race wins.
“The results have been missing the last two rounds so I’m very happy to finally be back here [in the top 3], particularly with how Free Practice went this morning. It wasn’t really strong. I saw the guys at the top; we were quite a step down to them in the lap times and we made very big progress throughout qualifying too from practice. I was quite happy. I did at least get one purple sector. We are in a good spot for race three [The Feature Race].”
Zhou found himself constantly in the top ten through qualifying but was struggling to penetrate the top five with strong lap times. However, in the final five minutes, Zhou began gaining on his rivals before a fastest middle sector got him up to third where he stayed. He spoke after qualifying about just how he made this time up and whether the track ramping up was a factor.
“It’s a bit in the tyres as well. You have your first feeling on these option tyres. You then inform your engineers about what you think can be adapted or adjusted for the final run. Then you go out, you have a bit more prediction about how the car will be behaving around the lap and then you just try to put every sector together which I think this time was the case. In Jeddah, that wasn’t the case; I missed the last sector by almost three tenths. The top three or top five is so tight together, except for Oscar [Piastri] who is a bit further now. Every small margin, small improvement matters in this series.”
With Zhou only one F2 race away from becoming a Formula 1 driver, he would very much be excused for having his focus already upon next season. However, the Chinese driver remains loyal to Alpine and their Driver Academy until his final race this weekend. Therefore, his opportunity to speak with future colleagues and teammates of Alfa Romeo has been surprisingly limited. F1 Feeder Series had the chance to speak to Guanyu about this.
“Yes, I’ve been speaking to Valtteri but only through Instagram and WhatsApp. Obviously, I don’t have the opportunities to be going to Formula One yet. He seems to be a very nice guy. Also, the people I’ve worked with who have also worked with him in the past, everybody has really nice positive words about him. So, I’m really looking forward to firstly working around him in the 2022 season.”
“Secondly, with Alfa, I’m still under the Alpine Academy so I won’t be finished until the F2 season. The contact or meetings with the team [Alfa Romeo F1 Team] is very limited because of that. I actually went to Enstone, which is the head of Alpine factory, to say bye to everyone before heading off to Jeddah. Apart from that, I think after the last F2 race, I’ll be definitely spending more time with my future team. With Alfa together I think it’s going to be a busy few days coming up after this weekend but right now because of the situation I’m in, I am very limited with all that stuff.”
Feature Race starts at 9:00am GMT (10:00am CET) on Sunday morning.
Header photo: Formula Motorsport Ltd