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