Guanyu Zhou

Guanyu Zhou is the first Chinese F1 driver to drive full-time, racing for Sauber from 2022. Zhou was born on 30 May 1999 in China. Not much else is known about Zhou other than that he karted in China. He won several championships in China before he decided that he wanted to pursue racing as a career.


In 2012, Zhou shifted to Sheffield looking for a more competitive environment. He joined the Strawberry Racing team and won the Super 1 National Rotax Max Junior Championship as well as the Rotax Max Junior Championship. In the second season, Zhou karted in the WSK Championship Cup, KF2 European Championship and in the Karting World Championship.

Formula 4 Formula 3 European Championship

Zhou got his break in single-seater racing when he joined Prema Powerteam in 2015. He raced in F4 and finished the first season as a vice-champion. He also drove in some rounds of the German ADAC F4 Championship and had two podium finishes in Spielberg and Spa. 

In 2016, Zhou turned his attention to F3, joining Motopark.

FIA Formula 3 European Championship

With Motopark, Zhou had a successful stint. In Ricard and Hungaroring he finished on the podium. Zhou finished the season in 13th place as he could not find pace during the second half of the season. He rejoined Prema in 2016 and finished with an excellent 5 podium finish. Zhou improved his ranking from 13th to 8th place. 

After thinking of joining F2, Zhou remained in F3 with Prema. He had a good start to the season winning his maiden F3 win in Pau. When Zhou won three podiums in Zandvoort, he was only one point short of the leader. He was unlucky to have 4 consecutive retirements due to punctures, and collisions with teammates. Although he won the race in Hockenheim, Zhou was to finish the season in the eighth position. He had 3 poles and 2 wins that year.

FIA Formula 2

Zhou started his Formula 2 career with UNI-Virtuosi Racing in December 2018 for the 2019 season. Zhou finished third in his maiden appearance in Barcelona. He started the race well and led most of the way. But a degraded tyre forced him to drop to third place. He won another podium in the Monaco sprint race. This time he overtook Artem Markelov at the start and finished third again. Zhou created history at Silverstone by becoming the first Chinese driver to win the Formula 2 pole position.

Although he squandered his pole at Silverstone, Zhou would win another third place in the spring race at Paul Ricard. He finished with the third fasted lap at the Abu Dhabi. Finishing seventh in the Formula 2 season, Zhou was awarded the Anthony Hubert Award for being the highest-finishing rookie. Zhou remained with UNI-Virtuosi for the 2020 season. His partner was Callum Ilott.

Zhou secured his second Formula 2 pole position in the opening race of the 2020 season at the Red Bull Ring. Electronic problems saw him lose his lead and finish 17th in the race. I Sochi, Zhou won his first Formula 2 race after a crash between cars and a premature end to the race. Six podium finishes across the 2020 F2 season saw him finishing sixth.

Zhou decided to spend the 2021 Formula 2 season with UNI-Virtuosi for the third consecutive year. He converted his pole position into a win, his first in a feature race at the first race in Bahrain. Zhou won another sprint race at the Monaco circuit followed by a podium finish in Baku. He lost his way and went four races without securing a point. Zhou recovered to win the feature race at Silverstone following a spin in the sprint race. 

Zhou’s car stalled just before the first race at Sochi and he could only end sixth in the feature race. Oscar Piastri was running away with a huge lead. Round seven at Jeddah saw Zhou’s car spin, and he dropped to third in the standings. In Abu Dhabi, the last venue of the season, Zhou bounced back. He won the sprint race and secured second in the feature race. He finished third in the season with 4 wins, 9 podiums and 1 pole. 

His F2 career was over and Zhou would be heading to Formula 1 for the 2022 season.

Why was Guanyu Zhou a suitable candidate for Alfa Romeo? 

Kimi Raikkonen had announced that 2021 would be his last Formula 1 season. Alfa Romeo immediately signed the services of another experienced Formula 1 driver …Valtteri Bottas from Mercedes. The second driver used to be from the Ferrari junior driver pool. With Alfa Romeo sponsoring the title from 2022, the situation changed as the team could choose any driver of their choice. Antonio Giovinazzi, who was engaged by Alfa Romeo for three years, was to lose his seat at the end of 2021.

There were several options and the team was looking for a fresh, yet experienced talented driver. Under the guidance of the immensely experienced Bottas, Alfa Romeo could improve their standings in Formula 1. Here’s where Zhou came in. The fact that Zhou came with sponsorships was a bonus. Seevral Chinese companies jumped on board to sponsor the first Chinese F1 driver.

The talks however were put on hold when Michael Andretti, the owner of an IndyCar team expressed an interest in buying the operation. Andretti wanted to promote IndyCar star, Colton Herta. The talks fell through and Alpha Romeo continued their negotiations with Zhou. The deal was finalised before the Brazilian Grand Prix in 2021. 

Formula 1 Career

Sauber (2022 – )

Guanyu Zhou’s debut season in Formula 1 in 2022 marked a significant milestone, not just for the driver but for the sport itself, as he became the first full-time Chinese Formula 1 driver, racing for Alfa Romeo Racing alongside veteran Valtteri Bottas. His entry into F1 was met with great anticipation and represented a significant step forward in the global expansion of the sport, bringing a new fanbase and attention to Formula 1.

Team and Expectations: Joining Alfa Romeo, Zhou was expected to learn and gradually adapt to the rigors of Formula 1. The team aimed to support his development as a driver, leveraging Bottas’s experience to aid his transition from Formula 2 to the pinnacle of motorsport.

Season Overview: Zhou’s 2022 season was characterized by a steep learning curve, punctuated by moments that showcased his potential. He demonstrated commendable speed and racecraft, contributing to Alfa Romeo’s efforts in the Constructors’ Championship.

Key Highlights and Results:

  • Bahrain Grand Prix: Zhou’s Formula 1 debut was promising; he scored a point in his first race, finishing 10th. This result was a significant achievement, marking him as a driver to watch.
  • Monaco Grand Prix: Another highlight of Zhou’s season was his performance in Monaco, one of the most challenging circuits on the calendar. Despite the demanding nature of the track, Zhou showed composure and skill.
  • Sprint Races and Qualifying: Throughout the season, Zhou demonstrated flashes of speed in qualifying and sprint races, occasionally outperforming more experienced competitors and narrowly missing out on points finishes.


  • Adaptation and Consistency: As with any rookie, Zhou faced challenges in consistently extracting the maximum from his car, particularly in races where strategy and tire management were crucial.
  • Competitive Midfield: The highly competitive midfield battle in 2022 meant that small margins often determined the difference between scoring points and finishing outside the top ten.

Season Conclusion:

  • Overall Performance: Zhou’s debut season was a solid foundation for his Formula 1 career. He demonstrated both the potential and the areas for growth expected of a rookie. His ability to score points and compete in the midfield was a positive sign for both him and Alfa Romeo.
  • Contribution to the Team: Zhou played a crucial role in Alfa Romeo’s campaign, contributing to the team’s points tally and helping them in their battle in the Constructors’ Championship. His relationship with teammate Bottas and the team was positive, with mutual respect and collaboration evident throughout the season.
  • Future Prospects: Ending the 2022 season, Zhou’s performances laid the groundwork for his continued development in Formula 1. With a year of experience under his belt, expectations were that he would build on his rookie season, refine his skills, and become a more consistent points scorer for Alfa Romeo.

Guanyu Zhou’s entry into Formula 1 in 2022 was a landmark moment for the sport, and his performances throughout the season demonstrated why he earned his place on the grid. As he continues to adapt and grow, Zhou’s journey in Formula 1 will be closely watched by fans and pundits alike, with many looking forward to seeing how far his talent can take him.


Guanyu Zhou’s 2023 Formula 1 season with Alfa Romeo showcased his continued development and resilience in the sport. Remaining with the team alongside Valtteri Bottas, Zhou entered his second season with the aim of building on his rookie year experiences and contributing more significantly to the team’s performance.

Season Highlights:

  • Pre-season Testing: Zhou made a statement during the second day of pre-season testing at the Bahrain International Circuit, setting the fastest lap time of 1:31.610. This performance hinted at his and the team’s potential for the season ahead.
  • Bahrain Grand Prix: The season opener saw Zhou qualify thirteenth and finish sixteenth. In a strategic move, he made a late pit stop for soft tyres to claim the fastest lap of the race, a tactic aimed at denying rivals Alpine and Pierre Gasly a bonus point.
  • Australian Grand Prix: Zhou scored his first points of the season with a ninth-place finish, having started from seventeenth. This result demonstrated his ability to navigate through the field and secure valuable points for the team.
  • Azerbaijan Grand Prix: A mechanical issue led to an early retirement for Zhou, highlighting the challenges of reliability that he faced during the season.
  • Spanish Grand Prix: Zhou again finished in the points, starting thirteenth and finishing ninth, showcasing consistent performance in race conditions.
  • Hungarian Grand Prix: Achieving his best Formula One qualifying performance, Zhou set the fastest Q1 time and qualified fifth. However, a slow start and a first-corner collision resulted in a time penalty, and he finished sixteenth.
  • Dutch Grand Prix: An early call to switch to intermediate tyres propelled him as high as second place. Despite this strategic advantage, he eventually fell outside the top ten and crashed out when the rain returned.
  • Singapore Grand Prix: Starting from the pit lane due to modifications under Parc Ferme conditions, Zhou managed an impressive recovery from nineteenth to finish twelfth, despite the timing of safety cars working against him.
  • Qatar Grand Prix: Starting last, Zhou capitalized on various incidents and challenges faced by other drivers to finish ninth, marking his third points finish of the season.
  • Mexico Grand Prix: After making it to Q3, Zhou struggled in the race, finishing fifteenth after a red flag incident and a battle on used hard tyres.
  • Brazilian Grand Prix: A difficult qualifying session saw Zhou eliminated in Q1, starting and finishing in twentieth place.

Season Conclusion:

Zhou concluded the 2023 season 18th in the championship with 6 points, matching his points tally from 2022 but finishing four points behind teammate Bottas. Notably, he outqualified Bottas six times during the season, underlining his progress in terms of one-lap pace.

The 2023 season was a mixture of highs and lows for Zhou, with standout performances in qualifying and strategic races highlighting his potential. However, consistency in race finishes and navigating through the midfield pack remained areas for improvement. As Zhou continues to adapt to Formula 1, his experiences from the 2023 season will undoubtedly contribute to his development as a driver, with the hope of achieving greater success in future campaigns.

With a name change to Stake F1 Team for 2024, Zhou has been retained by the team, where he will have his first opportunity to race in front of a home crowd in Shanghai at the 2024 Chinese Grand Prix.

Why does F1 use Zhou instead of Guanyu?

In Formula 1 and other international contexts, Zhou Guanyu is often referred to by his surname “Zhou” instead of his given name “Guanyu.” This is because, in Chinese culture, the family name is placed before the given name, which is the opposite of the Western naming convention. Therefore, “Zhou” is his family name and the name used in standings and official records, similar to how other drivers are commonly referred to by their surnames in the sport.

Where does Zhou live?

Guanyu Zhou resides in the United Kingdom. Many Formula 1 drivers choose to live in the UK due to the proximity to several F1 team bases and the country’s motorsport industry. However, his exact place of residence within the UK is not publicly disclosed for privacy reasons.

Who is the only Chinese driver that has ever raced in F1?

Guanyu Zhou is the only Chinese driver to have ever raced in Formula 1. He made his debut with the Alfa Romeo Racing team during the 2022 season.

How popular is Zhou Guanyu in China?

Zhou Guanyu has significantly contributed to the growing popularity of Formula 1 in China. As the first full-time Chinese F1 driver, he has a considerable fan base and has increased the sport’s visibility in the country. His presence in Formula 1 is seen as instrumental in expanding the sport’s appeal to a broader audience in China.

Who has number 24 in F1?

Guanyu Zhou races with number 24 in Formula 1. He chose this number as a tribute to his childhood hero, the late NBA icon Kobe Bryant.

Has Zhou ever won a race?

As of the start of the 2024 F1 season, Guanyu Zhou has not won a Formula 1 race. However, he has achieved success in the junior formulas, including wins in the FIA Formula 2 Championship before making his Formula 1 debut.

How much does Zhou make in F1?

As of the 2023 season, Guanyu Zhou’s salary with Alfa Romeo in Formula 1 was reported to be around $2 million annually. However, driver salaries can vary based on performance, contract terms, and other endorsements or agreements, so this figure may change over time.

What religion is Guanyu Zhou?

Guanyu Zhou’s religious beliefs have not been publicly disclosed. It is common for public figures, especially in sports, to keep their personal beliefs private. Therefore, unless Zhou has shared this information in a public setting, his religion or personal beliefs remain unknown.

How rich is Zhou Guanyu?

Guanyu Zhou’s net worth is estimated to be around $1 million to $5 million. His earnings come from his career as a Formula 1 driver, including his salary from the Alfa Romeo Racing team, and possibly from endorsements and sponsorships. However, exact figures can vary and are not always publicly disclosed.

How many languages does Zhou Guanyu speak?

Zhou Guanyu speaks at least two languages fluently: Mandarin, which is his native language, and English. He moved to the United Kingdom at a young age to pursue his racing career, which has helped him become fluent in English.