This article first appeared in the June 2017 issue of WGM.
A superstar in the making, 17-year-old Chinese race car driver Guanyu Zhou first caught the eye when he won the Super 1 National Rotax Max Junior (UK) and the Rotax Max Euro Challenge Junior go-karting championships in 2013 – both renowned breeding grounds for future Formula 1 greats. WGM spoke with Guanyu about his impressive rise.
WG·M:Thanks for speaking with us Guanyu. Can you tell us a bit about your background and how you first became interested in motorracing?
Guanyu Zhou: Yes. I am Guanyu Zhou from Shanghai, China and I’m 17 years old. When I was a kid I loved car toys and car sounds. One day my Dad took me to an indoor go-kart track, I had a try and I loved it from that point on. I started racing in 2007 when I was seven years old.
WGM: Is it difficult to chase a career as a driver in China? Are there many opportunities available to race?
GZ: Yeah of course itʼs much more difficult than the other countries as the racing culture in China is quite behind and not many people have traditionally followed it, but it is getting better every year. I won the China Kart Championship two years in a row and after that I went to England – which has the most high-level drivers in the world – to continue my career as there are more opportunities.
WGM: When did you realize that you had a talent for racing?
GZ: After I won in China, we decided to go racing at the highest level. I’m really thankful that I have my family’s support all the way. It was also a big moment when I won the British and European Kart Championships. I was the first Asian driver to win both championships.
WGM: Can you talk a bit about being a Ferrari Academy driver? How did this happen and what have you learnt from them?
GZ: After I won the British and European Championships, Ferrari was interested in me and asked me to do some tests. When it all went to plan, they told me they were happy with my performance and that’s how we signed up. Being a Ferrari Academy driver means a lot to me. It was my dream to drive for them when I was young, so joining the academy I have more possibilities for the future. They also helped a lot to improve me as a driver.
WGM: How have you found the step up to Formula 3 over the past year or so? How has it differed to other classes you’ve driven?
GZ: Formula 3 is definitely one of the best and hardest categories. It’s not an easy step from F4 to F3 because the driving style is quite different, but after a while you get used to it. The most difficult part is the high corner speed you have to carry, which makes it hard physically as well.
WGM: You are back with Prema Theodore Racing this year. What are your goals and expectations for the rest of 2017?
GZ: I am really happy to be back with Prema Theodore Racing and being with such a good team, my goal for this season is to finish top five in the championship.
WGM: What are your dreams for the future in terms of your racing career? Do you have any specific long-term goals?
GZ: Yes, my goal for the future is to be first Chinese F1 driver to compete on the Grand Prix circuit.
WGM: China hasn’t had a lot of racing drivers on the world stage over the years compared to a lot of European nations. How proud are you to be out there representing China?
GZ: It’s a pleasure to represent my country on the world stage. Hopefully it will be a successful career ahead to make my family proud and to improve China’s racing background.
WGM: Finally, you’ve raced in Macau once before. What was that experience like for you and can we expect to see you back in Macau in 2017?
GZ: Yes I hope so! Macau is by far the hardest track in the world. Every corner you need to nearly kiss the wall to go fast. It’s really crazy but also a really fun track to drive.