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"He's doing a perfect job," says Alfa boss of Zhou

NEWS STORY
21/07/2022

Yet to confirm Chinese driver, Guanyu Zhou for a second season, Alfa Romeo team boss, Frederic Vasseur insists the youngster is "ticking all the boxes".

While the likes of Oscar Piastri and Nyck de Vries are forced to watch from the sidelines, some are of the opinion that, much like the likes of Nicholas Latifi and Lance Stroll, Guanyu Zhou is only on the F1 grid because of his connections.

Indeed, speaking in the F1 Nation podcast, McLaren's Zak Brown admits that commercial reasons, as opposed to actual talent, are often the deciding factor when choosing a driver.

"If they happen to be British, because we're a British team, or American, because that's an important market, or from Asia, because that's an important market, it's kind of a commercial bonus," said the American. "But first and foremost, we're here to win races, that's what our sponsor partners want."

With that in mind, and the highly rated Theo Pourchaire waiting in the wings, Frederic Vasseur believes that Guanyu Zhou is doing a good job at Alfa Romeo and "ticking all the boxes".

"We had some targets at the beginning," reveals the Frenchman, according to Motorsport.com, "to go into Q2, to score points in the season and so on, and he is ticking all the boxes. So far he did Q2 at the first race and he scored a point in Bahrain.

"Then he was able to improve step by step, even though we had on all sides some issues with reliability," he adds.

"We didn't tell him, but I am more than pleased that he scored points in Montreal because he deserved it. And so far he's doing a perfect job," insists Vasseur. "He's doing a perfect job in the car but outside of the car also, because he is a very good team player, a very good teammate. He's always bringing extra motivation to the guys, he has a positive attitude, and this for us is a good push."

His horrific accident at Silverstone was the Chinese youngster's fourth DNF from five races, having previously suffered a water leak and engine issues.

Nonetheless, as his confidence grows, the team expects Zhou, who is 41 points adrift of his highly-experienced teammate, to start scoring points on a more regular basis. However, Vasseur is adamant that the youngster is not being put undue pressure.

"Pressure is not the right word, but at least stimulation," he says. "If you want to fight with Alpine or McLaren, we need to score points with two cars, this is mandatory. Also it's a matter of stimulation and performance in the team, because Valtteri also needs someone alongside that is able to push him, to give him sometimes some shit. And for us, it's also important to have the second car to play with the strategy and so on.

"Again, I think on every single point he's there," adds the Frenchman who has worked with some of the finest talent on the grid. "And even in terms of car development he's now at the level that he can bring his own weight to the system, to have his own contribution. That's an important step for us also, to have two cars scoring points.

"Everybody is more than pleased with what he's doing today. For me it's a comfortable situation to have a couple of drivers doing good results and so. But Zhou has to be focused on himself and focused on Zhou. I'm more than pleased with the job done."

Asked if Zhou's performance is having the required effect on sponsors, particularly from China, he admits: "We signed now our second Chinese sponsor and it's a good move, I'm happy with this, but I know that it will be a long process.

"We signed with SenseTime and we already had AMX in the past, that's the main two sponsors that we have from China," he adds.

"Perhaps it will take time, I'm convinced, but perhaps Zhou has to score first and to deliver first to attract new sponsors. But we have the feeling, because we have tons of contacts, that it's starting to work, but it's quite slow."

Check out our Thursday gallery from Le Castellet here.

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