Piastri defends Zhou over “unfair” social media criticism

2021 Qatar Grand Prix

Posted on

| Written by and

Oscar Piastri has defended fellow Alpine junior driver Guanyu Zhou following a backlash to his appointment to Alfa Romeo’s Formula 1 team.

Zhou, who trails Piastri in the Formula 2 championship, was confirmed as Alfa Romeo’s new driver for the 2021 F1 season earlier this week. He will be F1’s first Chinese race driver and brings significant sponsorship to the team.

Antonio Giovinazzi, who Zhou is replacing at the team, reacted to the news with disappointment, saying it showed F1 can be “ruthless” when money is involved. Zhou’s appointment also attracted criticism on social media.

However Piastri came to the defence of his F2 rival today. “I’ve spent quite a lot of time at the factory with Zhou, mainly in the gym and stuff like that. I think obviously he’s copped quite a bit of negativity on social media and stuff and I think most of it’s pretty unfair, to be honest.

“Okay, we all know he’s bringing some financial backing behind him but he’s not doing poorly. He’s second in the championship, he’s got the same amount of wins as me, he led the championship for the first part of the year so certainly not coming in with no results at all.”

Zhou will join the highly experienced Valtteri Bottas at the team next year. “I think it will be a bit tough for him against Valtteri,” said Piastri. “I think Valtteri will be a very strong team mate. But I’m excited to see how he goes and I think he’ll do a pretty good job.”

Piastri is unlikely to race next season. He will be unable to return to F2 if he wins the series, which he is currently leading, and he will take on a reserve driver role at Alpine. He said he is grateful for the opportunity.

“Of course I would have loved to be on the grid and in a race seat. But even getting to the reserve driver role, with the way things have panned out, it’s the best-case scenario.

“One of my first aims when I got into racing was to become a professional driver and to have it as my job, which from next year it will be. So from that perspective, I’m super-excited that I’ve made it. Obviously not to my final destination that I want to get to, but to have it as my full time job, that’s something I’m really proud of and really excited by.

“Throughout my junior career, we’ve not struggled financially but we don’t have the kind of money to match some of the other people on the grid. So to be here and getting this reserve driver role on talent and my results for me, that’s something I can be really proud of.”

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2021 Qatar Grand Prix

Browse all 2021 Qatar Grand Prix articles

Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

19 comments on “Piastri defends Zhou over “unfair” social media criticism”

  1. “… also attracted criticism on social media.”

    When does anything happening in the public realm not attract criticism on social media?

    1. What should be getting critisism is why Piastri is not allowed to race in F2 again. That has to be the dumbest rule in sport. There should be a proviso that “If you dont get a full time F1 drive after winning the F2 championship, you may race the next season”
      Effectively you are punished for your success with the current rule, which is against the fabric of sport.

      Meanwhile, Zhou has raced in F3 and F2 for almost 6 seasons and has not won a title yet (but would be allowed to race F2 again next year????). Please explain to me the logic.

  2. That’s a very mature response.

  3. Piastri is of course correct, just because Zhou has backing doesn’t mean he isn’t worthy of a place on the grid. But social media is not a place which understands subtlety and nuance…so any backlash Zhou is getting doesn’t surprise me at all.

    1. that is pathetically weak spin defending zhou, Piastri said most of the criticism is unfair(copy pasta, west Taiwan winnie the pooh spam on Reddit etc) but NOT valid criticism of zhou most notably the €30m+ a year money he brings directly from the ccp to alfa and that he is a mediocre journeyman who has got the seat because of the huge propaganda value for ccp party who want to sportswash their damaged image on a world stage plus Alfas owners Stellantis love the billions value of ‘free’ marketing in their biggest market mainland china, cant wait to see the lucky red lunar new year zhou edition long wheelbase alfa on sale soon(!).

      Regardless of the ’50 cent army’ shilling how great he is and all the valid criticism is 4d chess western racist anti Asian (funny how they omit that Albon is half Thai and Tsunoda is 100% Samurai Japanese) propaganda orchestrated against zhou the fact STILL remains that he is ONLY in F1 because he is ccp state backed who funds 100% of his Motorsport activities and NOT talent.
      His F2/F3 results proved that he is a joke , Tsunoda gets criticized this season for underwhelming results yet he beat zhou in his rookie season in F2 in a lower funded team as well.

      zhou has raced for the best top funded teams in F3 and F2 for almost 6 seasons now and has not won a title yet. similar to stroll whose dad literally paid for F1 staff to assist his son in F3, zhou’s state backed money he brought to the lower formula teams made them Mercedes/red bull tier in terms of strength yet he never came close to winning a title tells you all you need to know about him.
      Piastri who could be the next Lewis Hamilton winning f3 title on debut season, looks like he will win f2 in debut year yet has no race seat because a mediocre driver who brings €30m gets the seat ahead of him.

      My suggestion to stop this is to overhaul the super licence system. ONLY title winners (F2, IndyCar, superformula etc) are eligible for a super licence to be able to race in F1 and not rich over funded drivers spending 3+ years in F2 gaming the system adding points for mid table finishers..

      TL;DR

      zhou seems like a nice likable guy but his results in lower formulas are of that of a mediocre journeyman and he only has a race seat because of money and “nation branding” propaganda value he brings to Winnie the pooh.

      1. Are you going to comment like this on every article relating to Zhou for the entirety of his F1 career?

        1. If someone called a driver a “cLoWn”, would you stand up and defend?
          I would if I could.

      2. @ccpbioweapon

        The combination of your avatar and username makes it difficult for me to take anything you say as impartial on the subject of China…

        1. The only thing he’s right about is Tsunoda.
          You know, when someone said offensive remarks about Tsunoda, he defended him.

        2. By the way, that profile picture…should have a fresh new change!

  4. A mature response. Effectively he won’t continue in F2, even if he didn’t win the championship.

  5. Kudos to Piastri. He didn’t need to do this, and also coming from someone who really should be getting an F1 drive, I thought it was very mature of him.

  6. Very mature and generous of Piastri. I doubt he will be thinking this in two or three years time if he never gets an F1 drive though.

    I guess like many things there is a big separation between the image of someone given by traditional media/social media and knowing them as a person or friend even. It’s not really Zhou’s fault that things have worked out the way they have. It’s mainly the greed of the whole business of F1 these days.

  7. Outside of the reserve driver role, does anyone know what Piastri’s plans are for next year? It’d be such a shame if he slipped through the net.

    1. I don’t think he will – seems to be the real deal.

  8. This is what happens when you target a casual audience who think Drive to Survive is real life. Most of the comments I’ve seen about this and the Max/Lewis incident show a real lack of knowledge of F1 and of motorsport in general. Hopefully over time, they’ll get a better understanding and we’ll have a large community of knowledgeable F1 fans but we’re miles away from that at the moment.

    1. Sadly, @petebaldwin , there’s no chance we’ll end up with a large community of knowledgeable F1 fans if Brawn and co continue with the idea that giving the casual fans what they want is the way to go, because they bring more money. We’ll end up with a large community of fans like the ones who described, and considerably fewer hardcore knowledgeable fans than there have been in the past.

  9. I was unaware of this criticism of Zhou on social media, and hope that he did not read it. A message I would send to all fans is please don’t criticise drivers on sites like twitter where they might actually read it. I feel reasonably confident that they don’t read sites like this (or at least the comments sections), but still try not to be too critical just in case they do.

    Personally, I think Zhou won’t set the world alight, but he’ll do a decent job in Formula 1, and will do a better job than Giovinazzi. I would prefer Oscar Piastri in that car, but Zhou was the next-best option as the second-placed driver in Formula 2. Good luck to him, and don’t be put down by the social media criticism.

Comments are closed.