Alonso’s former teammate signs for Alfa Romeo, in need of his financial backing, and becomes the first Chinese driver in the history of the Gran Circo.
On July 2, when I took the car from Fernando Alonso to participate in the first free practice sessions of the Austrian GP, Guanyu Zhou he was feeling more than overwhelmed. The young Alpine tester knew of the influence of that session on the millionaire contracts of his sponsors and of the undisguised interest of Stefano Domenicali, CEO of F1, in the Chinese market. His goal, in any case, was to return the two-time champion’s A521 without a scratch to the garage. Yesterday, four months after that Friday at Spielberg, Zhou made his signing for Alfa Romeo official to become the first Chinese driver to contest a World Championship.
Zhou, who signs for only one year, will be the only rookie of the next championship and form a peculiar couple with Valtteri Bottas, squire of Lewis hamilton at Mercedes for the past six seasons. At the start of a cycle marked by the regulatory revolution, Alfa Romeo looks for a new impulse to get out of the well. And the commitment to Zhou, whose espnsors intend to inject more than 25 million euros into the project, seems, if not the most suitable, then the most pragmatic.
We can’t hide the financial reasons, I admitted yesterday Cedric Vasseur, head of the Ferrari subsidiary squire, whose annual outlay is not even remotely close to its budget limit (145 million). The Asian giant, in this way, now seems like a whole candy for the brand of Quadrifoglio and for Orlen, the Polish oil company that has been supporting the costs of the equipment since the beginning of 2020.
In the shadow of Piastri
Even after three years without an F1 Grand Prix in Shanghai, due to the pandemic, China continues to emerge as a basic pillar for Liberty Media. It is not only about refreshing that exotic premiere of Ma Qinghua at the wheel of an HRT at the 2012 Italian GP, but rather to outline a powerful plan for the future. At the moment, the renewal until 2025 was made official just two weeks ago.
Zhou’s case bears striking similarities to those of Nikita mazepin, Nicholas latifi and Lance Stroll, incorporated into Haas, Williams and Aston Martin thanks to their excessive financial backing. However, it would be unfair to ignore its merits on asphalt, which are superior to those of the examples mentioned. For three seasons in F2, all under the Alpine umbrella, Zhou has shown speed and consistency. Without going any further, this year’s triumphs in Monaco, Bahrain and Silverstone still give him some chance of winning the title. In the absence of two tests, he has 36 points less than his garage companion, Oscar piastri, the greatest talent of his generation.
The constant comparisons with the Australian represent, in fact, Zhou’s weak point. Piastri, champion in the Eurocup Renault and the F3 in his years of rookie, has the magic that already distinguished Charles Leclerc or George Russell in his formative years. Guanyu, on the other hand, despite his irreproachable character, forged since his arrival at the Ferrari Academy at the age of 13, lacks that touch. In addition, he must still regret the problem with the accelerator suffered in Bak and a couple of spins, in Silverstone and Sochi, which exacerbated his disadvantage against Piastri in the general classification.
Starting today, it’s time to put into practice everything you’ve learned in the Enstone simulator. Because the farewells should not be delayed for Zhou, who will have already highlighted on his agenda the second week of December, when the first test with Alfa Romeo awaits him in Abu Dhabi.
Graeme lowdonhis representative must combat the critical voices spread through the paddock. The most belligerent, obviously, arrived yesterday in the mouth of the main victim. F1 is excitement, talent, risk, speed … But when it comes to the money it can be ruthless, he argued. Antonio Giovinazzi, who says goodbye to his seat, after three mediocre seasons, to find a place in Formula E. Another severe setback for F1 in Italy, which in 1991 had 13 drivers on the grid and the next season will have none.
In the middle of this troubled winter market, Alpine s seems to have reacted with greater vision and yesterday made official the hiring of Piastri as a new tester. The maneuver of Laurent rossi and Marcin budwowski It admits numerous interpretations, although none as interesting as the one that affects Alonso’s own future, which still does not clear his intentions as of 2023.
Reference from elmundo