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China’s first F1 driver Zhou says ‘endurance’ key to success

Sauber driver Zhou Guanyu. Photo: Hector Retamal/AFP

The path to becoming China’s first Formula One driver was a lonely one that required endurance and tough self-discipline, Sauber’s Zhou Guanyu said Tuesday, ahead of his first grand prix race in his hometown Shanghai.

The motorsport event will return to the country for the first time in five years this weekend post-pandemic, with hype building around Zhou.

The 24-year-old, who made history in 2021 when he signed with Alfa Romeo as China’s first-ever Formula One driver, described his road to motorsport’s highest level as arduous.

“As a Chinese driver, I am not in an area that belongs to me, I don’t have anyone to guide me, I don’t have a carmaker, I don’t have any engine manufacturer,” Zhou told reporters on Tuesday, after a screening of a documentary about his career.

“I am completely dependent on my own hard work as well as my team’s,” he said. 

“There is a lot that you have to endure, you have to discipline yourself internally in terms of some of your thoughts.” 

Zhou said he envied Japanese drivers, who had a “Honda Dream Project to get them on track from childhood”.

Zhou is unlikely to make it to the podium after coming in 15th place at the Australian Grand Prix in March and dropping out early due to a mechanical problem in Japan earlier this month.

“Entering the circuit is already a dream come true for me,” he told reporters.

He said he was concerned about performing on an unfamiliar track in Shanghai this weekend, especially as the Shanghai International Circuit was recently resurfaced.

“I believe a round of practice will be enough to help me reach a more stable state,” he told reporters.

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