Young speedster ‘touched and proud’ to become China’s first Formula 2 winner

Zhou Guanyu made good on his promise to ensure Chinese fans would hear their national anthem at a Formula 1 circuit after the 21-year-old raced to a historic victory over the weekend.

Zhou became the first Chinese to win a Formula 2 race by dominating Sunday’s F2 Russian Grand Prix, the curtain-raiser to the F1 race, from pole position.

Afterward, an ecstatic Zhou was bursting with pride at the milestone triumph.

“The win means a lot to me, and it probably has been the most significant achievement in my career so far,” Zhou told China Daily via telephone on Sunday. “At the very beginning of the season, my goal was to make a breakthrough by bettering my best performance from last season, which was third place.

“Also I had promised my Chinese fans that I would let them hear the national anthem and see the national flag flying on the highest podium inside the circuit. I have achieved that. It was not easy. I’m touched, proud and thankful.”

Zhou has been China’s brightest motor-racing star in recent years. Last season, he finished seventh overall to claim F2’s best rookie award in a highly encouraging campaign that included five podium finishes and one pole position. Those results helped his UNI-Virtuosi outfit to finish second in the team standings.

Having started in pole on Sunday, Zhou was determined not to let victory slip through his grasp after numerous close calls recently.

“All I could think of before the race was to do my best, and the final result would also need some luck. After all, I had chances of standing on the podium this season before I encountered mechanical failure several times,” said Zhou, who went as far to describe his car’s technical issues this term as a “major rival”.

“The past year has been really tough for me. Only I know how hard it has been. Mechanical failures have denied me chances of podium finishes many times, which were all big setbacks. But my team and I did not give up. We believed the win would come sooner or later.”

Second-place Nikita Mazepin praised Zhou’s resilience as the Russian pushed hard for an overtake.

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