Guanyu Zhou enjoyed his first official free practice session in Formula 1, with the Chinese driver replacing Fernando Alonso at the Red Bull Ring on Friday morning.
The Alpine Academy driver, racing full-time in 2021 with UNI-Virtuosi in the FIA Formula 2 Championship, took to the track in Austria for the Alpine F1 Team and ended an encouraging fourteenth fastest, just over four-tenths of a second behind Esteban Ocon.
Zhou became just the second driver from China to participate in a free practice session in Formula 1, and he felt more confident with every lap he completed. He also did not think he would get up to speed as quickly as he did.
The twenty-two-year-old hopes the experience at the Red Bull Ring will benefit him down the line as he bids to become China’s first ever full-time Formula 1 driver, with Zhou not far away from earning a Superlicence that would make it a more realistic proposition.
“It felt special to drive FP1 today,” said Zhou. “I’m really happy with all my runs and I was able to get familiar with the tyres early on.
“I didn’t expect to be up to speed so quickly and the pace was definitely there on the Mediums. I felt good this morning, and I was getting more confident on each lap. I just wanted to build it up steadily and grow into the session.
“I’d like to thank the team for the opportunity, it was certainly very special. Hopefully I made everyone proud and there will be more moments like this later in my career.”