Alpine’s Zhou overturns 32-point deficit at final round to clinch Asian F3 title

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In the round-up: Alpine junior driver Guanyu Zhou has won the Asian Formula 3 championship.

Superlicence points boost for Zhou after Asian F3 title win

Zhou went into the final triple-header round at Yas Marina 32 points behind leader Pierre-Louis Chovet. The Alpine-backed racer got his weekend off to a strong start by putting his Prema-run Abu Dhabi Racing car on pole position for the opening race.

He lost the lead at the start to Patrick Pasma and followed his rival home, but was elevated to first place when Pasma was penalised five seconds for failing to slow sufficiently for yellow flags. Chovet could only manage fifth place.

Pasma repeated his fast start in race two but this time kept his resulting victory ahead of Zhou. Pasma’s weekend got worse, however, as he tangled with Roman Stanek on the first lap and retired. In two races Zhou had overcome his rival’s advantage, and Chovet went into the final race a point behind.

Patrick Pasma, Guanyu Zhou, Jehan Daruvala, Yas Marina, Asian F3, 2021
Zhou clinched the title with victory in the final race
Zhou had pole position again for the title-decider and this time he kept his advantage at the start. His fourth victory in the 15-race series secured the title ahead of Chovet, who having won six times earlier in the season endured his first win-less weekend of the year.

Zhou, who will race for Virtuosi for a third season in Formula 2 this year, scooped 18 FIA superlicence points along with his championship trophy. His F2 rivals Jehan Daruvala, Roy Nissany and Alessio Deledda placed third, fifth and 15th in the championship respectively.

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AlphaTauri have done the right thing by not fitting Red Bull’s 2020 gearbox and rear suspension to its new car, says HK:

I think this will prove to be a wise decision.

It’s unclear if the RB16’s unstable rear end was the fault of the rear suspension, or if it was just some aero parts stalling, or more likely a combination of them both. Only Red Bull and AlphaTauri will know if it would be an actual upgrade in performance or not.

But then, as the team has pointed out, performance can be found all over the car. With a finite amount of resources, especially with the ’22 project running in parallel, you have to invest in the areas that are going to bring the most gain. It’s unwise to invest in something that will bring a tiny gain for a whole lot of effort. Especially since last year’s AlphaTauri suspension worked so well for them.
HK (@me4me)

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  • 15 comments on “Alpine’s Zhou overturns 32-point deficit at final round to clinch Asian F3 title”

    1. If my calculations are correct, Zhou has become eligible for a super license as he got ten SL points from finishing sixth in F2 last year (bringing him from 14 to 24), so the 18 from winning the Asian F3 bring him to 42.
      Daruvala (12 from finishing 3rd) as well, jumping from 28 to 40. As a result, he’s got as good of a chance at an Alpha Tauri drive for next year as fellow Red Bull-backed F2 driver Vips.
      Zhou’s chances of getting to Alpine aren’t as high, though, because they’re partly dependent on Ocon’s performance, but also Gasly’s possible availability, I reckon.

      Another joker? F1 already has a decent amount of those, so no need for more, LOL.

      COTD: I agree.

    2. What a battle until the end.

    3. Many congratulations to Zhou. No criticism of him but I think this further highlights issues with the Superlicence system. I think it’s great if a young driver decides to step down a level if that aids their development as a driver and helps them take a step forward in their career. However it seems like the only development help for a capable F2 driver such as Zhou is the superlicence points and he doesn’t need the experience of running a F3 car over 15 rounds. The presence of F2 drivers who are competing only because Superlicence points takes spotlight away from the likes of 18 year old Pierre-Louis Chovet who has never raced anything higher powered than an F3 car.

      The FIA could impose further legislation to stop experienced F2 drivers stepping down to F3, something akin to NASCAR who have a limit on the number of races that drivers who compete for the ‘Cup’ championship can do in the two lower ‘Xfinity’ and ‘Truck’ championships. Since those limits were put in place, more Xfinity races are won by drivers who compete for those championships rather than the Cup drivers and teams.

      I’m not in favour of increased legislation, rather the opposite. I think it would be better to scrap the Superlicence points system as it is over regulated and puts too much of a premium on the expensive F2 and F3 championships.

      1. @georgeod Yes, perhaps axing the points system wouldn’t be a bad idea. Only keep the minimum age limit of 18, the 300 km minimum requirement, and some other things.

        1. Why keep the 18 year limit. The only driver ever to start in F1 did quite well didn’t he?

          1. Coventry Climax
            21st February 2021, 18:56

            Verstappen is the exception, not the rule.
            Usually, the decision to take part in something that might possibly cost you your -or other’s their- life, is reserved for those over 18. Or even 21, depending on what country you are from.
            I’d say age has absolutely nothing to do with it, while ability, sensibility, awareness and such do.
            So ‘and some other things’ is about right. But then, just leave it to the FIA to come up with something silly, that’s what they are best at.

            1. If only Verstappen didn’t debut too early, then we wouldn’t have the superlicense points system. We would only have stricter Super License requirements.

      2. respectfully disagree. number of points can be tweaked, but this system has many good effects. it prevents ‘well asset cushioned’ offspring to spring to F1 without showing real skills in lower series.
        And I don’t want to restrict drivers racing what they want and collect experience and superlicence points. There were at least two other F2 drivers in the field, they should have been on the podium every time then? Upcoming talents had a good challenge to show how they stack up against more experienced competition.

      3. The presence of F2 drivers who are competing only because Superlicence points takes spotlight away from the likes of 18 year old Pierre-Louis Chovet who has never raced anything higher powered than an F3 car.

        I don’t agree – Chovet was impressive because he led the F2 drivers for so long. He beat all of them apart from Zhou and won more races than anyone. Being able to compare him against better-known benchmarks is a strength for the championship.

        I do agree that the extra competition for superlicence points is not ideal. But the fault there lies with the existence of the unnecessary superlicence points system.

    4. @georgeod I think a ban on F2 drivers would be bad for a series like Asian F3, because having names like Zhou and Daruvala helps the championship get more eyeballs. What they could do is maybe give reduced superlicence points to F2 drivers, like half of what an F3 or F4 driver would get if they finished in the same championship position.

      1. I don’t like the superlicence points system (I’d scrap it entirely) but if you’re going to have it, it’s got to be the same for everyone. It doesn’t matter which series you’re in – if a F2 driver drops to F3 and wins, he should score the most points because he’s showing he’s more ready for F1 than those that he beat.

    5. Ocon should start looking at other options. Unless he can match Alonso in a convincing way.

      Chinese market must be eager to have a national hero, and Alpine wouldn’t mind to take a bite at the Chinese sports car market.

    6. All this attention to Zhou… I’m more curious where is Chovet ending up for the coming season. F2 or F3? Is he in one of the junior teams? Seems like he’s a big talent that should be snapped up…

      1. @ricod He’s driving in F3 this year with Jenzer. Not a great team, though Tsunoda did manage to get a race win with them in his first year in Europe.

    7. If this guy didn’t already have enough points for an F1 super license, something is very wrong with the system.

      The whole system is idiotic already. Basically, all you need is 107% type rule (can be based on teammate or whatever makes sense) or three experienced racers without an agenda to rule someone eligible.

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