Guanyu Zhou is already 2022 Formula 1 Rookie of the Year because there are none other than him, as for his lack of experience, Alfa Romeo team boss Frederic Vasseur points out that neither did Max have much (car racing) mileage when he made his debut.
Zhou beat some formidable names vying for the seat alongside newcomer, former Mercedes man, 32-yer-old Valtteri Bottas to replace retired Kimi Raikkonen and the 22-year-old Chinese driver as his teammate in place of Antonio Giovinazzi,
An interesting combination of experience and youth, which Vasseur acknowledges may have its pitfalls: “We all know that F1 is a huge challenge. We also have a new car and only three days of testing per driver, but he is a smart driver,” insists Vasseur.
Young kids are much more mature today than they were 20 years ago
The first three-day test begins in Barcelona and runs from 23–25 February followed by the second test in Bahrain from 11–13 March, giving both drivers, rookie Zhou in particular precious little time to get into the swing of things at the highest level.
Furthermore, Vasseur rates the current grid highly and knows what’s in store for his young charge: “The competition is at a very high level but we will definitely give him some time to improve. He will feel the pressure to get results.
“However, we are convinced that we can develop the skills of a young driver and get the best out of Zhou,” explained the Alfa Romeo team principal, but likened that to a few notables.
“Max came into F1 without huge experience, also Charles did well in his first season, Russell and Norris did well in his first season. That means it’s possible.
“Of course, we have different tools than before, such as the simulator. However, I also think that young kids are much more mature today than they were 20 years ago. They are ready faster today,” reckoned Vasseur.