Zhou Guanyu has picked Charles Leclerc as the driver he would like to see take the 2022 Drivers’ Championship.
The Alfa Romeo driver explained that his friendship with Leclerc, which dates back to their time at the Ferrari Driver Academy, is the reason he is backing the Monegasque to clinch the title over Max Verstappen.
In an exclusive interview with RacingNews365.com, Zhou revealed that his preference is to keep on seeing new championship winners in Formula 1, rather than repeat victors.
“To be honest, I would like Charles to win,” said Zhou.
“But I think Red Bull are looking very strong at the minute. They keep getting faster so it’s a tough one, but I do like to have a different world champion every year.
“He’s a good friend in the paddock, so I have to put money on him!”
Zhou added that he has enjoyed seeing new teams competing at the front of the field, after witnessing Mercedes’ successful period of back-to-back championships.
“This year, Red Bull and Ferrari are clearly ahead,” said Zhou.
“I think it’s much better than two years ago. I remember while I was watching that it was always a Silver Arrows [Mercedes] 1-2. So, this is more exciting.”
Zhou “excited” to be part of new generation of drivers
Zhou is the latest in a long list of Formula 2 graduates to reach F1. Eight drivers from the current grid have been promoted from the feeder series in the last five years, including Zhou, Leclerc, Lando Norris, George Russell, Mick Schumacher and Alex Albon.
By contrast, the three oldest drivers on the grid are Fernando Alonso (40), Lewis Hamilton (37) and Sebastian Vettel (34), who have a combined 13 Drivers’ Championships between them.
When asked about the ‘next generation’ of F1 drivers, Zhou added that he has been interested to see how he and his former junior rivals would compare to the established drivers on the grid.
“I’m excited because at least half of the guys [on the F1 grid] I have competed against, because we’re in the same generation, or a couple years older [than me],” Zhou explained.
“It’s nice to have that because you know how all of the guys drive and the way that their driving style is. So from a young age I’ve known a few of these guys in the early stages.
“I think in every sport when you have young generation it’s always interesting to see what different kinds of characters they evolved into.”
Stay tuned to RacingNews365.com for another Zhou exclusive later this week.