Zhou hints at Piastri scare: ‘I’m glad I left Alpine’

Last winter, Chinese driver Guanyu Zhou left Alpine when he saw there was no chance of getting a starting driver seat in the Anglo-French line-up. Now Oscar Piastri is trying to do the same.

Alpine is one of the gears that has one of the largest driver pools of Formula 1, but some decisions have closed the doors to young drivers who are old enough and sufficiently prepared to make the leap to the premier category.

The first to make the decision to seek life for himself was Guanyu-Zhouwho reached an agreement with Alfa Romeo after finishing third in Formula 2. Why did the Chinese driver decide to dissociate himself from Alpine, the brand which had financed his career in recent years?

The first gesture that complicated things for the alpine juniors was the signing of Fernando Alonso replacing Daniel Ricciardo. Moreover, in June last year, the brand decided to renew Esteban Ocon’s contract until 2024. Therefore, the only way to gain access to a starting seat was for the Spanish driver to leave.

No option in Alpine

When it became clear that Fernando Alonso was playing at more than enough level to continue in Formula 1, Guanyu Zhou was clear that the only way to progress in his career was dissociate from the alpine.

Thanks to this came the opportunity to sign for Alfa Romeo, a rival brand of the French inside and outside the competition. “I was completely liberated. It all worked out very well, because my contract ended at the end of last year and it was up to the two of us if we wanted to continue, but then an opportunity arose with Alfa.

“So the deal was definitely not to continue with Alpine, because I didn’t see any place where I could get a seat for next year or for this year. And Alfa and Alpine are brands that do a lot of competition, not just in Formula 1 but in general,” says Zhou.

Guanyu Zhou, during a training session with Alpine in 2021.

Piastri follows in Zhou’s footsteps

Now, Oscar Piastri came to the same conclusion and if Fernando Alonso’s sudden departure to Aston Martin in 2023 would allow him to compete as a regular driver at Alpine, it is already too late.

The reason is that, like Zhou, Piastri found his own teamas he assumed the Spaniard would renew his deal with Alpine for at least one more season.

“It was not easy to get out of Alpine, but I’m really happy that everything went well because if I had another year (out) I would be stuck, like now with Oscar (Piastri)”Zhu ponders. “It wasn’t the best for me. I feel like there was an opportunity here, so I took the chance and I think it was a very good decision.”

It remains to be seen if Oscar Piastri rushed and that his contractual obligations prevent him from taking this step before the end of the season or if, on the contrary, the information which ensures that he was released on July 31 is true. In any case, the Australian felt Alpine was stuck and decided to fight for his future, as Zhou had done a few months earlier.

The pressure of being the first Chinese driver

Guanyu Zhou became the first official Formula 1 driver from China this year, which has undoubtedly generated a lot of pressure on him in recent months.

But in the first race of the year, the Bahrain Grand PrixZhou managed to score, releasing a lot of the pressure thanks to him.

Guanyu Zhou, with the Alfa Romeo at the Hungaroring.

“I didn’t expect to be in the points, but I knew I was stronger in the race than in qualifying. But this race (Bahrain) was very stressful because I was comfortable in P8 or P9, then we had a late safety car, so I had to stop, drop to P12 and have to come back” , Zhou said.

“It was difficult, but when I crossed the finish line in tenth position, it meant a lot. I have never been so excited in my entire career. It was the pressure I had been dealing with since last winter, from the last F2 rounds until now. It’s incredible”.

“I don’t think anyone can imagine it, because I was faced with the pressure of comments while I was still racing in F2, trying to fight for the title. It slowed me down a bit, but it didn’t stop me from showing up in F1 and that’s the most important thing.”concludes the Chinese, who gradually improves his performance and carves out a place in Formula 1.

Source: RUNNER

Pictures: Alfa Romeo Racing

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