UNI-Virtuosi Racing‘s Guanyu Zhou said he was screaming when he achieved his first ever pole position in the FIA Formula 2 Series at Silverstone.
Zhou headlines a Virtuosi front row for the Feature race as himself and team-mate Luca Ghiotto were able to beat both DAMS cars in the quest for pole position. Zhou also becomes the first Chinese driver to claim pole in the series.
Both Zhou and Ghiotto were given one last attempt in the final seconds of Qualifying to set one last hot lap, as the two fought for pole around Silverstone. Zhou abandoned his lap, but the 1:38.182 lap he placed earlier in the session was enough to secure him first as Ghiotto couldn’t find any improvements.
With pole secured, Zhou revealed in the Qualifying press conference that he was screaming inside his car when the team broke the news to him that he will be starting the race from first place.
“Yeah it definitely felt good, I was screaming. It was a long time waiting, especially when you have done a good lap,” said Zhou
“You are P1 and Luca is still doing a second push and it is waiting for him to finish the lap, that was the longest wait of my life.
“When I got the pole I was screaming on the radio because I was super happy with what I done today. From the beginning of the first lap, it was good and I enjoyed the lap. There are really nice high speeding corners and everything went well and qualifying was just something special I think.
“On the first set I had good pace, but I made some mistakes. Then, with the second set I managed to pull off a good clean lap. The team did a fantastic job this weekend, but now I am just enjoying my first pole for myself.“
Zhou is currently enjoying his rookie season in Formula 2, having already made three trips of the podium, led a race and lies sixth overall in the drivers’ championship.
He is currently the highest placed rookie in the standings’ and is helping Virtuosi in the battle for the top of the teams’s championship against DAMS.
Zhou transitioned from FIA European Formula 3 to Formula 2, having to deal with a new style of racing, tyres and car in his first year in Formula 1‘s support series. But the Chinese driver says that he is getting on top with the Pirelli tyres the series uses.
“I am definitely getting used to these Pirelli rubbers,” commented Zhou. “They are definitely not something that I got used to quite quickly.
“Obviously for the past few years, I have been racing with a different tyre manufacturer, so this year is a big learning year for me and I am getting used to these tyres each race. Last week I was strong race wise and we had some big deg, so all these periods help me learn as a rookie, but I am just happy that I can perform well with a lap in qualifying.
Zhou is yet to to secure a win as of yet in his rookie season of Formula 2, having come close on separate occasions. Ahead of the Silverstone weekend, Zhou feels that his moment on the top step of the podium will come soon.
With pole position his for the first race on Saturday, Zhou hopes that he can keep his position in what he expects to be a ‘long’ Feature race that could potentially see light showers occur.
“Just doing one lap is so much pressure before that lap starts and then not making a mistake is key. The race is a long race as the others said, anything can happen and we are just trying to keep our position.”