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Thursday May 23, 2024

China F1 crowd turns up the volume for Zhou’s home debut

By Reuters
April 22, 2024
Chinese motorsports racing driver Zhou Guanyu. — AFP/File
Chinese motorsports racing driver Zhou Guanyu. — AFP/File

SHANGHAI: Chants of “Guanyu, Guanyu, Guanyu” drowned out all other sound at the Shanghai International Circuit on Sunday as Zhou Guanyu, China’s first and only Formula One driver, stepped on to the starting grid ahead of his first Chinese Grand Prix. Sauber’s Zhou, who was racing in his hometown in China’s first grand prix since 2019, had failed to score a point in the season’s first four races but that did not dent the enthusiasm of the estimated 60,000 fans who turned out each day.

“It’s really difficult. You try to focus on your job, on what’s going on with your driving, but then having them all screaming and shouting and cheering for you; I’m just so grateful,” Zhou said after finishing the race in 14th place and outside the points.

Before lining up on the grid in front of seven-times world champion Lewis Hamilton, the 24-year-old described how he had watched the race from turn one in 2004 “dreaming to be an F1 driver in the future”. “It’s such an emotional journey these twenty years. It reflects so quickly on your mind, I’m just so grateful to be here,” Zhou said after the race.