There was a new face in F1 racing today. In FP1 Guanyu Zhou drove for the Alpine team and did not show a bad performance.
The Chinese is the first man of his country since 2013 to sit in an F1 car and proved a good pace. After practice, he was “only” half a second slower than teammate Esteban Ocon. Afterward, he said he will be looking for more opportunities in an F1 car.
Zhou has had a great season so far, where he holds the lead in the F2 championship with 2 wins. Despite these successes, his first experience in an F1 car will hold a special place for him personally.
“It was amazing. I’m really thankful for this opportunity – the team believing in me stepping into Fernando’s car. I had to take care of it, but I was also pushing as much as I could to show my full potential.”
“At the end, we were actually quite fast with the medium tires and the team was really happy with the job we’ve done. We actually did a lot rather than just focus on the lap time, we were mainly focused on getting the new setup changed to help the team. And the lap time was also there, so that’s another thing less to worry about. Now we really just focus on the future and what more I can bring to the team.”
He already drove an older F1 car at Silverstone this year. But this one was a “different ball game,” he said:
“The downforce difference with the current car is hugely better, so you have to adapt. It’s never easy.”
“I used my first set of tires to get into a rhythm, and from the second set, I was able to explore myself as much as I wanted to. It was not a perfect lap – I locked up in a few parts – but in the end, I’m happy with the lap time.”
“I went through all the lap times with Esteban and think we were actually quite similar. Less than two tenths on the same compound tires. I’m happy with how I went, and I definitely proved myself here, but there’s still a lot of work to be done in the background and to keep improving more in the future.”
Asked if he will have another chance for testing this year, he said:
“Not too sure yet. To be doing quite well this time there is a chance, but we have to wait and see.”
“When I jumped out of the car Davide (Brivio, Racing Director) was there shaking my hand. In the debrief we obviously went through all the stuff we need to go through and at the end Alan (Permane, Sporting Director) also said really well done to me. So, I’m really pleased how everyone congratulated me and I’m just going to keep working the way I am now and try to keep impressing people.”