Zhou Guanyu says it was pleasing to score a point on his FIA Formula 1 World Championship race debut in the Bahrain Grand Prix last March as it got a lot of people who had criticised his move into the sport.
Zhou announced himself on the biggest stage of single seater racing with a tenth-place finish at the Bahrain International Circuit, with Alfa Romeo F1 Team ORLEN having signed him to race alongside Valtteri Bottas for the 2022 season.
A lot of criticism flew both Alfa Romeo’s and Zhou’s way for the move, with many feeling he had only been signed because of his nationality. By racing in Bahrain, he became the first Chinese driver to compete in Formula 1.
However, he was able to let his talking be done on track, and by scoring a top ten finish on debut silenced many of the critics that had been outspoken prior to the season starting.
“That was huge because of all the stuff I was facing over the winter break,” said Zhou to Motorsport.com. “When I was announced, a lot of people who don’t know me tried to judge me based on my nationality.
“So it’s not the nicest thing to have, when you’re fighting for your dream. But then I was just so grateful to have my first race and score a point, I got them off my back.
“To talk on-track, it means a lot to me, because then these people started switching around. They can start to understand you, start to know you more.”
The reaction to Zhou’s contract being extended into the 2023 season was seen very differently compared to his initial announcement, something the Chinese driver was pleased about.
“I’m grateful,” he said. “Like after all the years I’ve been through, I’ve achieved the stuff that I wanted to do.”