DECEMBER 15, 2021
China's Zhou tunes out to F1 haters
2022 rookie Guanyu Zhou has fended off criticism of his impending Formula 1 debut.
When Alfa Romeo signed the strongly-financed Chinese for next year over fellow Alpine academy member and new Formula 2 champion Oscar Piastri, many suspected the mighty dollar had once again won the day.
"I was surprised by such a strong reaction on social media," 22-year-old Zhou, third overall in F2 this season, said as he tested for Alfa Romeo in Abu Dhabi.
"But I didn't spend much time on it. The most important thing is that I achieved my dream by reaching Formula 1, and I am proud of that.
"When you reach the pinnacle of motorsport, you should always expect the haters to appear. But we don't have to focus on what other people are saying. The main thing is your dream and passion.
"I am very happy - for my team and for those who supported me along the way. And the opinions of others don't interest me too much," Zhou added.
Even Australian Piastri, who is one of the most impressive juniors on the road to F1 in some time, defended China's first ever Formula 1 racer.
"I think he's copped quite a bit of negativity on social media, most of which is pretty unfair to be honest," said Piastri, who is testing with Alpine this week.
"Ok, we all know he's bringing some financial backing with him, but he's not doing badly or anything. He's certainly not coming in with no results at all."
However, the 20-year-old - who will be Alpine's full-time reserve next year - does expect Zhou to have a tough opening F1 campaign next year alongside Mercedes refugee Valtteri Bottas.
"I think it will be tough for him," Piastri admitted. "I think Valtteri will be a very strong teammate.
"But I'm excited to see how he goes and I think he'll do a pretty good job."