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Guanyu Zhou becomes first Chinese driver after signing for Alfa Romeo

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Alfa Romeo’s Formula One team will have a new driver lineup in 2022 with the announcement on Tuesday that Guanyu Zhou will replace Antonio Giovinazzi after the current season.

Zhou currently competes in F2, where he has multiple wins and is currently second in the championship. He is also a test driver for Alpine, and with the promotion to Alfa Romeo he is set to become China’s first F1 driver.

“To be the first ever Chinese driver in Formula One is a breakthrough for Chinese motorsport history,” Zhou said in a statement. “I know a lot of hopes will be resting on me and, as ever, I will take this as motivation to become better and achieve more.”

Giovinazzi has been with Alfa Romeo for the past three seasons. With no free seat currently available at any other team, his F1 career is likely over for now. There’s a good chance he ends up in Formula E, though.

Alfa Romeo’s other driver, Kimi Raikkonen, is set to retire from F1 at the end of the season, with current Mercedes-Benz AMG driver Valtteri Bottas named as his replacement back in September. Current Williams driver George Russell was subsequently named as Bottas’ replacement at Mercedes, and Alex Albon as the replacement for Russell at Williams.

Giovinazzi became the first Italian to compete in a full F1 season since 2011 when he entered the 2019 season. He has taken part in 59 races with the team so far, including two for Sauber (now Alfa Romeo) in 2017, when he made his debut in place of the injured Pascal Wehrlein. His best result was fifth in the 2019 Brazilian Grand Prix.

Zhou joins F1 as the sport prepares to adopt a new car design in 2022 with simplified aerodynamics aimed at making overtaking easier. The 2022 calendar will also expand to a record 23 rounds, with a new Miami Grand Prix set to be added.

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