Zhou opens up on abuse ahead of F1 debut: "It hurt quite a bit"

Zhou Guanyu was "quite surprised" by the level of abuse he faced online prior to his Formula 1 debut with Alfa Romeo, saying it "hurt quite a bit."

Zhou opens up on abuse ahead of F1 debut: "It hurt quite a bit"
Listen to this article

Zhou became China's first full-time F1 driver this year after graduating from Formula 2, partnering Valtteri Bottas at Alfa Romeo.

But Zhou was subject to criticism and abuse online prior to his F1 debut as many questioned his suitability for the seat and tagged him as a pay driver. Antonio Giovinazzi, who Zhou replaced at Alfa Romeo, said after losing his seat that F1 could be "ruthless" when "money rules."

A point on debut in Bahrain provided what Zhou called "the best answer" to his critics, with a further score coming in Canada where he finished eighth.

"I was able to prove my point, and switch the view of most of the people around, so I'm very happy on that side," Zhou told Motorsport.com in an interview ahead of the summer break.

"It hurt quite a bit. When you reach your dream, I finished top three in F2 and had secured the superlicence points, and when people don't really follow your journey and talk like that, it's kind of hurting from my side."

Asked if he meant comments online that were hurting him, Zhou replied: "Yeah, these days, people use the internet and social media a lot.

"When this happened, I was quite surprised the amount of people throwing racist comments or things like that.

"You still have supporters supporting you, but a lot of them don't really follow F2 or junior series. They just follow F1, they look at who you are, coming from China, [and say] that's the only reason you get a seat, for whatever reason.

"It kind of hurt, because when you have a dream and you finally reach it, you're expecting to have people send you congrats, not sending you these messages and trying to take you down.

"But I don't get taken down by just looking at these comments or people throwing bad stuff to me. The best thing I can do is just to do everything on-track. I think we've proved that point. I'm very happy now."

Zhou Guanyu, Alfa Romeo C42

Zhou Guanyu, Alfa Romeo C42

Photo by: Antonin Vincent / DPPI

Zhou said he had seen a shift in the kinds of messages he was now receiving from fans, and that some had actually apologised to him via social media for what they said ahead of his debut.

"Social media is good, it gives every sport, every person, the possibility to show their personality to people who don't have the chance to get close to them," Zhou said.

"But then you have the downside of people throwing bad stuff to you for no reason. But I think overall, I'm quite OK dealing with all that.

"It's different to what I imagined when I signed the contract. When you're in F2, everyone is hoping that you take the seat in F1. In 2021, everyone wanted me to take the seat at Alpine.

"It's pretty strange how half a year changes it, just because you've got [the seat]. That's just normal for everyone."

Zhou is focused on retaining his seat with Alfa Romeo for 2023 amid the current driver market movement, with talks planned after the summer break at Spa.

 

shares
comments

Related video

F1 cannot risk "NFL situation" by not acting on porpoising - Wolff
Previous article

F1 cannot risk "NFL situation" by not acting on porpoising - Wolff

Next article

US fan demand can support "many more" F1 races, says COTA chief

US fan demand can support "many more" F1 races, says COTA chief
The relaxed home life that helps F1’s Kevin Magnussen to deliver Prime

The relaxed home life that helps F1’s Kevin Magnussen to deliver

The unrelenting grasp of the tax man prompts most racing drivers to move to the likes of Monaco, Switzerland or Dubai. But, as Oleg Karpov found out, Kevin Magnussen is quite happy where he is, thank you very much – at home, with his family, in Denmark

Formula 1
Oct 5, 2022
How Perez has shown what many F1 drivers need from the 2022 season run-in Prime

How Perez has shown what many F1 drivers need from the 2022 season run-in

OPINION: Sergio Perez’s Singapore triumph arrested a big decline in his Formula 1 performances against Max Verstappen at Red Bull since his Monaco win. He now needs to maintain his form to the season’s end, while others are also seeking a change in fortunes.

Formula 1
Oct 5, 2022
How the FIA should punish any breaches of the F1 cost cap Prime

How the FIA should punish any breaches of the F1 cost cap

OPINION: On Wednesday, the FIA will issue F1 teams with compliance certificates if they stuck to the 2021 budget cap. But amid rumours of overspending, the governing body must set a critical precedent. It needs to carefully pick between revisiting the bitterness of Abu Dhabi, a contradictory punishment and ensuring parity for the rest of the ground-effect era

Formula 1
Oct 4, 2022
Singapore Grand Prix Driver Ratings 2022 Prime

Singapore Grand Prix Driver Ratings 2022

A testing return to the Singapore Grand Prix in tricky conditions created plenty of hazards and mistakes for the Formula 1 drivers to fall into. That partly explains a number of low scores, including from a handful of high profile runners, allowing others to take a starring role under the floodlights

Formula 1
Oct 3, 2022
The two key contributors to Leclerc's defeat to Perez in Singapore Prime

The two key contributors to Leclerc's defeat to Perez in Singapore

In a marathon Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix, Sergio Perez’s victory was only assured hours after the race due to a stewards investigation. Throughout the contest the Red Bull driver impressively held off Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc in changing conditions to see the Mexican pull out enough of an advantage to negate his post-race penalty

Formula 1
Oct 3, 2022
Why is Oscar Piastri F1's most sought-after rookie? Prime

Why is Oscar Piastri F1's most sought-after rookie?

The Australian rising star is fast, consistent, confident, adaptable and has shown excellent racecraft, but there’s already a taint to his reputation. That hasn’t stopped him becoming the hottest property in this year’s F1 driver market and why McLaren moved fast to snap up the 21-year-old

Formula 1
Sep 30, 2022
The unintended benefit that F1's new engine rules era will deliver Prime

The unintended benefit that F1's new engine rules era will deliver

Formula 1's incoming engine rules shake-up has multiple targets. But it may also solve what has been a bone of contention since the hybrids arrived in 2014. The new plan will allow the series to pump up the volume

Formula 1
Sep 29, 2022
How de Vries made himself impossible to ignore for a belated F1 chance Prime

How de Vries made himself impossible to ignore for a belated F1 chance

Nyck de Vries appeared to have missed his opportunity to break into Formula 1 as he was passed over for more exciting talents who have now become frontrunners and title fighters. But after catching the eye outside of the F1 sphere, before his stunning impromptu grand prix debut in Italy, will it lead to a delayed full-time race seat?

Formula 1
Sep 29, 2022