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Formula 1 Alfa Romeo launch

Zhou: Less pressure this year after “nervous” start in 2022

Zhou Guanyu says he feels much less pressure heading into his second season with the Alfa Romeo Formula 1 team than he did prior to his rookie season in 2022.

Zhou Guanyu, Alfa Romeo C42

Zhou says that he never felt more nervous than he did before his first Grand Prix start in Bahrain last year, a race in which he scored a point with 10th place.

As the only newcomer on the 2022 grid he went on to enjoy a solid season, despite being hit by reliability issues that cost him valuable points, and the team took up its option to keep him for this year.

PLUS: How F1’s sole rookie of 2022 proved his critics wrong

“For sure less,” he said when asked if he felt pressure ahead of the 2023 season. “This year of course I need to perform, I need to make a good step up, and I need to do much better than last year.

“Last year for me everything felt very new, and you don't know how you can do.

"You can do as many simulator runs as you can but it's not the same on track, and also handling the pressures. Here with the team, more the outside world, for me last year was the pressure that I really need to let's say show my potential.

“Which I was very happy that I was able to do. But coming to this season everything felt a bit more familiar, and you are kind of gaining on experience from the past.

“So I'm sure on the Bahrain starting grid I won't be that nervous as last season round one. I'd never felt that nervous in my life!

“But that was an incredible day in the end. This year definitely is going to be less.”

Zhou Guanyu

Zhou Guanyu

Photo by: Alfa Romeo

Zhou says his clear target for 2023 is to score more consistently and earn a longer contract with the Sauber-run team, as it enters its final season under the Alfa Romeo moniker ahead of morphing into Audi from 2026.

"On track it's quite simple, try to make a step and make progress, also to start where we finished, taking all the opportunities possible, be more consistent, that's definitely the key.

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“Last year I think I earned more points than what I had, because I feel like many reliability issues cost a lot of points.

“This season, let's see. Hopefully we have a very strong car, then we can have a lot more points than what we had last season, and then try to finish where we finished off in terms of the constructors' championship.

“That will be very good for the team. If on my side I can show my potential hopefully I can stay much longer in F1, and have a longer contract.

PLUS: How the last Sauber-built Alfa offers F1 2023 evolution clues

“I think that's always the aim for all the drivers. The first few years it's very normal, you have a single year or one-plus-one contract, but then after a few years, you get a longer one."

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