Zhou Guanyu Will Be a Star Regardless of Who Wins Chinese Formula 1 Race

Formula One F1 - Chinese Grand Prix - Shanghai International Circuit, Shanghai, China - April 18, 2024 Sauber's Guanyu Zhou during a press conference ahead of the Chinese Grand Prix REUTERS/Edgar Su
Formula One F1 - Chinese Grand Prix - Shanghai International Circuit, Shanghai, China - April 18, 2024 Sauber's Guanyu Zhou during a press conference ahead of the Chinese Grand Prix REUTERS/Edgar Su
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Zhou Guanyu Will Be a Star Regardless of Who Wins Chinese Formula 1 Race

Formula One F1 - Chinese Grand Prix - Shanghai International Circuit, Shanghai, China - April 18, 2024 Sauber's Guanyu Zhou during a press conference ahead of the Chinese Grand Prix REUTERS/Edgar Su
Formula One F1 - Chinese Grand Prix - Shanghai International Circuit, Shanghai, China - April 18, 2024 Sauber's Guanyu Zhou during a press conference ahead of the Chinese Grand Prix REUTERS/Edgar Su

Formula 1 returns to China this weekend after a five-year absence. And no matter who wins on Sunday, the star locally will be China-born driver Zhou Guanyu.
Despite his so-so results, Zhou is a being promoted as a celebrity in China. He’s the subject of a new film as the first Chinese driver to compete in F1. And he’s, of course, a favorite of sponsors who want a Chinese connection, The Associated Press reported.
Ahead of the first Grand Prix weekend in Shanghai since 2019, Zhou described as more than a race for him, saying "with a Chinese driver on the grid, we will write history.”
By the time he got to the driver's news conference on Thursday, where the questions to him ranged from China's economy and politics to its burgeoning auto industry's future potential in F1, Zhou had spent more than a week doing promotional work and meetings with sponsors, backers and fans.
“I’ve been extremely busy, you know — the busiest man, probably, in Shanghai over the last week and a half,” he said. “A lot of activities done. It’s great to see the support from the country already.”
Zhou has never won a Formula 1 race. In 48 races since 2022, he's yet to even reach the podium — meaning a finish in the first three places. In the last F1 race almost two weeks ago in Japan, his Sauber retired with a gearbox failure and he placed 18th out of 20.
In the season standings in 2023, he was also 18th with only six points from 22 races.
But the numbers don't matter much in the search for a hometown hero in F1.
“The pressure, of course this race is a little bit higher, but I don’t think it gets much more than for me than my debut in Formula 1,” he said. “Because by now everything feels a lot more familiar than back in the day. First day here is completely different ... now’s third season. So I’m just going to use that.”
Zhou was born in Shanghai and, though he's spent many of his formative years in England, Sunday's Chinese GP is a homecoming for him — and for the race. The last F1 in China was run contested in 2019, and the next four were canceled during the COVID-19 pandemic.
He noted that tickets sold out quicker than ever for the Chinese GP, with interest in the sport growing exponentially since he watched his first F1 race.
“For me, of course, it’s been 20 years waiting until this Grand Prix,” Zhou said. "Coming back here being an F1 driver ... yeah, I can't wait.
“A lot of mixed emotion, of course, but I want to treat it as much as the normal race weekend.”
A film about Zhou’s life will be released Friday by the Shanghai Media Group, a state-owned company and one of China’s largest media conglomerates.
Seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes — he's moving next season to Ferrari — won the 2019 race in China in the midst of his era of dominance when he won four straight season titles between 2017 and 2020.
However, the race two weeks ago in Japan was the 49th straight that Hamilton has failed to win. His last victory was in 2021.
The Chinese GP weekend will include a sprint race on Saturday and the main event on Sunday. Several drivers have raised concerns about the sprint being run on a track that has not been seen since 2019.
The only practice is scheduled for Friday, followed by sprint qualifying. Saturday has the sprint race, and qualifying for Sunday — all on a newly paved track. Sunday, of course, is race day.



Sabalenka, Medvedev Advance as Rain Continues to Disrupt the French Open

30 May 2024, France, Paris: Belarusian tennis player Aryna Sabalenka in action against Japan's Moyuka Uchijima during their women's singles second round match of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros Complex. Photo: Loic Baratoux/ZUMA Press Wire/dpa
30 May 2024, France, Paris: Belarusian tennis player Aryna Sabalenka in action against Japan's Moyuka Uchijima during their women's singles second round match of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros Complex. Photo: Loic Baratoux/ZUMA Press Wire/dpa
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Sabalenka, Medvedev Advance as Rain Continues to Disrupt the French Open

30 May 2024, France, Paris: Belarusian tennis player Aryna Sabalenka in action against Japan's Moyuka Uchijima during their women's singles second round match of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros Complex. Photo: Loic Baratoux/ZUMA Press Wire/dpa
30 May 2024, France, Paris: Belarusian tennis player Aryna Sabalenka in action against Japan's Moyuka Uchijima during their women's singles second round match of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros Complex. Photo: Loic Baratoux/ZUMA Press Wire/dpa

Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka stayed out of the rain and moved into the third round of the French Open on Thursday.
The second-seeded Sabalenka beat Japanese qualifier Moyuka Uchijima 6-2, 6-2 on Court Philippe Chatrier as showers again affected play at Roland Garros.
The inclement weather, which is expected to last for much of the day, halted play on all courts not equipped with a roof for the third consecutive day, The Associated Press reported.
“It’s going to be a bit tricky today. So we’re keeping our fingers crossed,” tournament director Amélie Mauresmo said.
Sabalenka, who reached the French Open semifinals last year, will next face Paula Badosa, a close friend and her doubles partner for this year’s clay-court Grand Slam tournament.
“It’s always tough to play your friend,” Sabalenka said. “But we know how to separate court and life.”
No. 4 Elena Rybakina, the Wimbledon champion in 2022, advanced by beating Arantxa Rus 6-3, 6-4.
Fifth-seeded Daniil Medvedev also reached the third round after his opponent, Miomir Kecmanovic, retired while trailing 6-1, 5-0. The Serbian player decided to quit the match after 55 minutes of play.
Three days after defeating Rafael Nadal, No. 4 Alexander Zverev beat David Goffin 7-6 (4), 6-2, 6-2 on Court Suzanne Lenglen.
“The crowd is always unbelievable in Paris, since we got the two new roofs it’s even more electric,” Zverev said. “When you guys are rooting for me, it’s even better.”