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Zhou overcome by emotion after point on F1 debut

Zhou Guanyu battles with Lewis Hamilton

Zhou Guanyu was overcome with emotion after finishing 10th in the Formula 1 Bahrain Grand Prix.

The Alfa Romeo Sauber driver makes his F1 debut this season alongside veteran Valtteri Bottas.

Zhou qualified 15th on Saturday before charging his way into the world championship points at the end of the 57-lap encounter on Sunday evening.

It was a significant achievement as he became not only the first Chinese driver to score points in F1’s seven-decade history, but also the first Chinese driver to start a race.

“On my lap to the box [at the end of the race], it was the most emotional I’ve ever had in my whole racing career,” Zhou admitted.

“Top 10, but one point in F1, it’s amazing, it’s unbelievable.”

A Formula 2 race winner, Zhou found himself battling with Fernando Alonso in the closing stages and trailed the two-time world champion across the line by less than a second.

That came after a race which saw him drop to 19th on the opening lap only to steal the final points-paying position as Sergio Perez spun upon commencing the final tour.

“I’m just so happy, so proud of the team behind me, proud of my team-mate,” Zhou said.

“We worked so hard together to maximise the car and then huge rewards for us. It’s a day that I’ll never forget.

“Once I had the problem in Turn 1, went into anti-stall in Turn 1, I have to go to neutral, restart everything.

“Then I knew my chance was very low to get to the points, so I was like full attack – eyes forward.”

For a time he battled with Lewis Hamilton as the Brit emerged from his first stop on a set of hard compound tyres, while the late Safety Car also played into Zhou’s favour.

Nonetheless, the 22-year-old seized the opportunities presented to him and, together with Bottas, delivered nine points for the team – its best race weekend since the 2019 Brazilian Grand Prix.

Formula 1 continues this weekend with the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, opening practice for which commences at 01:00 AEDT on Saturday.

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