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Zhou Guanyu, Alfa Romeo C42
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Special feature

How F1’s sole rookie of 2022 proved his critics wrong

The ‘pay driver’ tag left Zhou Guanyu facing depressing abuse. But China’s first F1 driver put it all behind him with a decent first season at Alfa Romeo that meant a contract extension was never in any doubt

Zhou Guanyu may have been well-prepared by modern-day standards for his rookie Formula 1 season thanks to his private testing with Alpine and three years in F2. Yet nothing could have prepared him for the challenges and surprises that came his way in 2022.

He faced racist abuse in the wake of his announcement at Alfa Romeo; he found a car that could do no more than three laps without breaking due to porpoising; and he had the most dramatic crash of the season at Silverstone when his car flipped over and ended up behind a tyre wall. But Zhou came through all of it having proved his critics wrong, raised his stock and established his place in F1.

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