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Renault signs second Chinese driver Yifei Ye to Formula 1 junior team

Renault has added a second Chinese driver to its Formula 1 junior programme, with Yifei Ye joining Guan Yu Zhou in the roster

Ye, 18, has signed with Hitech GP for the new FIA Formula 3 Championship - which supports Formula 1 at eight rounds - alongside Leonardo Pulcini and Juri Vips.

He was fifth and 17th in pre-season tests at Paul Ricard and Barcelona respectively.

"We have been watching Ye Yifei for some time," said Renault Sport managing director Cyril Abiteboul.

"He has impressed us with his results in all categories, plus his ability to integrate into any racing or cultural environment."

"For us, his future is promising and we are looking forward to guiding the next stages of his career as he continues his progress through the ranks."

Ye is the 2016 French F4 champion, having dominated the category in his sophomore season with 14 wins in 23 races.

He moved up to two-litre Formula Renault the following year, winning a pair of NEC series races in his first season before finishing third overall in the Eurocup in 2018 - behind Max Fewtrell and Christian Lundgaard, who are likewise part of Renault's junior programme and contesting FIA F3 this year.

"It's a real honour to join the Renault Sport Academy," Ye said, who will be one driver alongside Zhou attempting to become the first Chinese driver to race in F1.

The F1 junior with a nation's hopes on his shoulders

"Over the years I have seen its members go on to achieve great things in racing.

"It gives incredible support in all areas; physical training, working with world-class engineers, media experience and career guidance.

"Of course I also know the importance and privilege of working with a global brand such as Renault and I am looking forward to honouring their reputation with some strong results this year and in the future.

"I will be working hard to reach Formula 1 with Renault F1 Team one day."

Renault's Academy programme now comprises seven names, with Ye and fellow F3 newcomers Fewtrell and Lundgaard joined by Formula 2 racers Zhou and Anthoine Hubert, as well as Formula Renault Eurocup drivers Victor Martins and Caio Collet.

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