Sauber F1 driver Zhou says first transfer from China to UK was "a shock"

Sauber F1 driver Zhou says first transfer from China to UK was "a shock"

Zhou, originally from Shanghai, first raced in Europe in 2010 after winning Chinese karting competitions.

He then moved to the English city of Sheffield two years later, aged 12, to give his career the boost it needed, but the cultural change was substantial.

“It was a bit of a shock, coming from a big city like Shanghai,” said the current Sauber driver. “Also, Sheffield is way up north and there’s not much summer. But still, my mechanics were in shorts. And it’s a British thing, all the way to F3, F2… whatever the weather, shorts and t-shirts.

“I loved living in Yorkshire, I could just focus on racing, going to school and learning the language. I made good friends, good memories with the team.

“I moved in with my mother, I was so young – I couldn’t live alone. She took care of everything. The support was important because during the first months, going to school, I didn’t really know what everyone was talking about because of the language issue. So it was difficult.

“But compared to Shanghai and even London, everyone in Yorkshire is super relaxed. The pace of life is less rushed. At school, the teachers were really relaxed, helping me to improve in each subject. I have good memories.

Zhou achieved strong results, including winning the Rotax Max Euro Trophy and being crowned in the Super 1 National Rotax Max, both in the Junior category. However, the level of competition was considerably higher than he was used to.

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

“When I came to the UK I had literally won every championship in China. As a kid, I stood on the top of the podium every weekend… then I came to the UK and finished outside the top 10. Those are heartbreaking times for a kid, right?

“But I realized that I had to gradually increase my knowledge to be competitive against the best. So, a year later, I was able to get on many podiums and start winning. I was competing with Lando. [Norris] at the time.

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“Lewis Hamilton’s name was on some championship trophies – the names of previous winners were engraved on the bases. It was very important for me to have my name on the same trophy as world champion!

“2013 was a big year, winning the British and European championships. It made me think I could achieve my dream.”

Zhou became a race winner at every level from F4 to F2, paving the way for his current career in Formula 1, in which he has six points in 48 Grand Prix starts with the Sauber team.

Read the full interview with Zhou Guanyu, in which he discusses his participation in the first Chinese GP at the age of four and his time in the Ferrari and Renault young driver academies, in the May issue of GP Racing, which will go on sale this month. week.


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