F1: Zhou to make F1 practice debut in Austria with Alpine

Guanyu Zhou will make his Formula 1 practice debut with Alpine this weekend, taking part in FP1 for the Austrian Grand Prix.

Zhou drove last year’s Renault F1 car at the post-season test in Abu Dhabi, but will now get a first taste of 2021 machinery when he fills in for Fernando Alonso in opening practice on Friday at the Red Bull Ring.

Zhou during Sprint Race 1 of Round 2:Monte Carlo of the Formula 2 Championship at Circuit de Monaco on May 21, 2021 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco. (Photo by Clive Rose – Formula 1/Formula Motorsport Limited via Getty Images)

“Driving in FP1 at a Formula 1 grand prix weekend is like a dream coming true and another step closer to my ultimate goal of becoming a Formula 1 driver,” said Zhou.

“It’s going to be a very special moment. I’m preparing myself as much as I can to be ready and also ensure that I’m able to complete all the targets and plans that the team have set me to do.

“There have not been many Chinese drivers in Formula 1, so to be behind the wheel of an F1 car during a race weekend is going to be a very proud feeling.

“It’s going to be even more special that I’m driving Fernando’s car as he inspired me to pursue a career in racing when I was young.

“I’m very happy with my achievements so far and I’m very thankful for the support I have from those around me. My aim is to maximize this opportunity and I’m really looking forward to it.”

Alpine CEO Laurent Rossi felt confident the experience of driving an F1 car during an official grand prix weekend would benefit the 22-year-old.

“The challenge for young drivers to get into F1 is incredibly hard, and we are proud to support upcoming talent on this road,” said Rossi.

“In his role as test driver, Guanyu has participated in test and simulator sessions, so running a free practice in a current car is a logical and important step for one of the Academy’s brightest stars.

“This experience will greatly help him as he makes very solid progress towards the ultimate target that constitutes a full-time F1 seat.”