Interview with Zhou Guanyu F1 |  hypebeast

Interview with Zhou Guanyu F1 | hypebeast

You could say that Formula 1 is not for the faint-hearted. With only 20 drivers on the grid each year, the pressure is immense. 2022 marked the longest F1 season in history since the sport began in 1950, with 22 races taking place around the world. Of course, with Formula 2 and the junior drivers not far behind, there is also the added pressure to perform well to keep your place.

For neophyte Zhou Guanyu, however, pressure is part of the process. As with most drivers, Formula 1 is more than a sport, and the 2022 newcomer joined the ranks and quickly began to make a name for himself, scoring points in his first race and entering the history as the first Chinese driver in motorsport history.

The past season has seen many ups and downs for the Chinese rider, from his eighth-place finish and double team points in Montreal to his upside-down flight on the Silverstone track. Now that his rookie year is behind him, Zhou spoke to HYPEBEAST about his thoughts on the past season, running against his hero Fernando Alonso and what it means to represent his country.

In motorsport, you have to do well — you can’t just be there. You need to complete all championships in Formula 2 races for Formula 1 teams to be interested in you.

What has your journey been like so far to get to where you are today?

It hasn’t been the easiest and I don’t think it ever will be. Coming from China, the popularity of motorsports is not like other sports; we’re a little behind on that. We don’t have teams or manufacturers supporting us, but of course I had a dream and I really wanted to make it happen. I love racing and I felt that I might have the opportunity to succeed one day. We’ve put in hours of hard work behind the scenes, and I’m very happy to have finally achieved my dream this year. To also be the first Chinese runner is sensational, but it will always be a difficult journey.

You left China for Europe at a young age to pursue your goal. What role has that played in your career?

I started in Shanghai and won everything possible there, but soon realized that if I wanted to fulfill my dream, I had to go to Europe. It’s the birthplace of motorsport, but it’s also where you have the toughest competition. I did some karting there, then I started single-seater formula racing. It’s always against the toughest competitors, but it’s the only way out. In motorsport, you have to do well — you can’t just be there. You need to complete all championships in Formula 2 races for Formula 1 teams to be interested in you.

What was a highlight for you in your first season?

I should say Bahrain, just because not many people score in their first season let alone their first race. It’s always an unknown who arrives in Formula 1; I had no idea what my performance would look like. I thought I was going to score points with all the hard work I put in over the winter, but I certainly didn’t expect it to be at the first Grand Prix. Getting the first championship points for a Chinese driver was also an honour.

There’s a lot of pressure in Formula 1, but that’s how you balance, manage and explore your absolute maximum there.

Growing up in the world of motorsport, you had role models you looked up to who you race against now – one of them being Fernando Alonso, who you looked up to and cheered on when you were five. Can you put words to what it does?

Racing with Fernando Alonso now is pretty crazy. Some may not have expected him to be racing again, but he has remained fit and focused. It’s great to have him with all the Formula 1 world champions, all the guys I looked up to like Lewis Hamilton… It’s crazy.

It is a known fact that you are very interested in fashion. In a sport like F1 where you wear the uniform most of the time, how do you find ways to express yourself through style?

Formula 1 is a great platform, especially when you’re heading to the track in your own clothes. I don’t have a stylist; I just choose what I like in my wardrobe. It’s great that people can see another side of me, and I think people really appreciate what I do. Of course Lewis was the first to do it, but now there are more riders doing the same thing.

What’s the biggest lesson you learned from your rookie year?

How to be myself, how to believe in myself and how to shine on the track. There’s a lot of pressure in Formula 1, but that’s how you balance, manage and explore your absolute maximum there.

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