Cover Guanyu Zhou of China and UNI-Virtuosi Racing looks on in the Paddock during previews ahead of Round 7. (Photo: Getty Images)

Did you know that there are only three Asian drivers on the grid for the 2022 Formula 1 season?

While we have had our share of Asian drivers on the grid over the years, did you know that until now, we had yet to have a Chinese racer compete in the Formula 1 Championship?

Now, Zhou Guanyu is making headlines after it was announced that he would join Valtteri Bottas on the Alfa Romeo F1 Team in the 2022 season.

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“We welcome Zhou, who will provide an exciting opportunity to engage and grow our fan base in China,” said Stefano Domenicali, the chief executive of Formula 1.

Zhou began karting when he was only eight but struggled because motorsport is not big in China. In a bid to pursue his love for the sport, he moved to the UK when he was only 12, where he was given proper training and the chance to show off his skills in races. 

Zhou quickly rose through the ranks and easily conquered Formula 4 and Formula 3 under Ferrari. When he moved to Formula 2 in 2018, he switched to Renault’s young driver program. By 2019, the spunky driver was the programme’s top performer. 

In 2021, Zhao won four races in Formula 2 and finished third in the overall championship. His win scored him a deal with Alfa Romeo who signed the driver up for the 2022 Formula 1 circuit. 

While Zhao is the only new driver for Formula 1, he is starting strong considering that Alfa Romeo finished ninth last year. 

As the 2022 Formula 1 season begins, Zhao has clearly set his eyes on winning and in his debut race in Bahrain, he incredibly finished in 10th place, a significant feat for a new driver.

He will continue to drive throughout the season alongside Valtteri Bottas and it is quite clear that we will be hearing a lot about him in the Formula 1 circuits as the season wears on. 

While Zhao’s achievements as one of the few Asian drivers in the history of the sport is commendable, he will be up against two other Asian drivers this year who are also making history on the tracks in their own right. Keep reading to find out who they are. 

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Alex Albon

Alex Albon is a Thai-British Formula 1 driver who races under the Williams team. Albon started racing from a young age and became part of the Red Bull Junior Team in 2012. 

After being promoted to open-wheel cars for the 2012 Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 season, Albon spent three years in the series and ended up finishing third in the 2014 championship.

He was then moved to the FIA Formula 3 European Championship in 2015, where he finished seventh.

In 2017, Albon moved to the FIA Formula 2 Championship where he finished his first year in tenth place. He was then invited to the Driot Associés Motor Sport (DAMS) team in 2018 where he won four races and finished third in the championship. 

He was then pushed up to Formula 1 where he made his debut in 2019 with Toro Rosso alongside Daniil Kvyat.

Albon quickly proved his skills and was promoted to Red Bull Racing alongside Max Verstappen after just 12 races. 

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In 2020, Albon took his first podium finish (the first for a Thai diver in the history of the sport) at the Tuscan Grand Prix.

Unfortunately, after two seasons in Formula 1, Albon was replaced by Sergio Pérez and demoted to a test and reserve driver role with Red Bull for 202. He later was invited back to the grid and is currently driving for Williams in the 2022 circuit. 

Yuki Tsunoda

Yuki Tsunoda is a Japanese racing driver who is racing for Scuderia Alphatauri in Formula 1. He was born in Sagamihara, Kanagawa, and started his professional karting career in 2010 when he joined the JAF Junior Karting Championship. 

In 2016, the driver graduated from Honda’s Suzuka Circuit Racing School in the advanced formula class and became a member of the Honda Formula Dream Project. Under its mentorship, Tsunoda made his single-seater debut in the Formula 4 Japanese Championship.

By 2017, Tsunoda started his first full season of single-seater racing in the Formula 4 Japanese Championship. He won the regional championship while finishing third in the national Formula 4 championship and continued to race with the Honda Formula Dream Project till 2018. 

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In 2020, Honda announced that Tsunoda would be racing in the  FIA Formula 2 Championship. With his skill and talent, Tsunoda achieved three wins, four pole positions, seven podiums and finished 3rd in the championship with 200 points.

This propelled him into the spotlight and towards the end of 2022, Honda’s Formula 1 team announced that Tsunoda would drive for the team in the end-of-season rookie test at Abu Dhabi.

In 2021, it was announced that Tsunoda would join Pierre Gasly to race for Alphatauri. Tsunoda fought hard and secured 14th place in the driver’s championship. His win also secured his seat for the 2022 season where he is currently battling for a position at the top.

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