Interview: Zhou Guanyu keen for more Chinese youngsters on global motorsport stage-Xinhua

Interview: Zhou Guanyu keen for more Chinese youngsters on global motorsport stage

Source: Xinhua

Editor: huaxia

2024-04-22 09:24:30

by sportswriters Li Bowen and Xu Dongyuan

SHANGHAI, April 22 (Xinhua) -- Competing in the 2024 Formula One Chinese Grand Prix at the Shanghai International Circuit, which marked his inaugural home appearance as China's first F1 race driver, Zhou Guanyu could not hide his joy and pride.

"I'm a Shanghai boy, driven by the ambition to showcase the evolution of Chinese motorsport globally and pave the way for more young talents from my country to shine on the international stage," Zhou told Xinhua.

Zhou voiced his desire for increased attention to motorsport and greater participation from young enthusiasts, believing it to be the catalyst for China's motorsport industry.

Discussing the significance of the F1 Shanghai race, Zhou said, "Without it, my journey wouldn't have begun, and I wouldn't be standing here 20 years later, ready to race on home turf. The F1 Chinese Grand Prix has opened doors for more Chinese drivers to compete on the global stage."

In 2004, China hosted its first ever Grand Prix. Seat number 24 in the grandstand was where Zhou, then five years old, sat. Coincidentally, 24 is also Zhou's car number now.

Reflecting on his journey from fan to driver, Zhou said he would have advised his younger self to remain steadfast in pursuing his dreams and embrace competition without fear.

"In 2004, I was a little racing fan on seat number 24, knowing nothing about racing. Later on, I progressed from some karting events. I would tell my past self to stay true to your dreams, you're doing great. I would tell my younger self not to fear competition, believe in yourself, you're not inferior to foreign drivers," he said.

Acknowledging the challenges faced by Chinese drivers transitioning to European circuits, Zhou admitted, "In an unfamiliar environment, without guides, relying on myself and the team, from a hobby to becoming a professional driver. You're a champion in your country, but in Europe, you'll find that your peers on the track may be much stronger than you've imagined. Breaking into F1 was a journey filled with obstacles, but one I never regretted."

Since officially joining F1 in 2022, Zhou won that year's Best Rookie Award, with a best finish of eighth place in that year's Canadian Grand Prix, and a best qualifying position of fifth at the 2023 Hungarian Grand Prix.

"Every stage is important. Every achievement continues to inspire me to move forward," Zhou said.

The 2024 F1 Chinese Grand Prix also marks the 20th anniversary of the Shanghai International Circuit. "Since I joined F1, the Shanghai International Circuit has always been the place I wanted to come most. It's a track that's familiar and unfamiliar to me," Zhou said, while keeping his calm against pressure competing at home.

"I feel more motivated with the expectations of fans and myself. I hope to perform better at home. Before the Australian race, I've already practiced on the simulator for this track. Although I've never raced on this track before, I'm fully prepared," he noted.

Zhou's affection for his hometown is also reflected in the design of his Chinese race helmet, which featured Shanghai's metro map and several landmarks of the city, including Yuyuan Garden, the Waibaidu Bridge, and the financial hub of Lujiazui.

"These elements are what I want to showcase to the world. I'm a driver from Shanghai. I hope to let the world see the development of Chinese motorsport, and also hope that more young Chinese drivers can step onto the world stage," he said.

Zhou revealed his aspirations, saying, "When I'm old, after my racing career ends, I hope I can help more young drivers fulfil their racing dreams, share the experiences I've gained over the years, and guide them to success."

Looking ahead, he aspires to mentor future generations of drivers and aims for outstanding performances in the upcoming season.

"My goal is to have more impressive performances in both qualifying and the main race, while aiming to win more races between mid-table teams and earn more points," he concluded.