Renault junior Zhou gets first runs in 2017 F1 car

Frankie Mao

UNI-Virtuosi Formula 2 racer got his first proper taste of grand prix machinery with two tests at Paul Ricard and the Red Bull Ring in June at the wheel of the RS17.

The 20-year-old Chinese driver, who joined Renault as a development driver at the start of the year, then got a third run at Barcelona on Wednesday.

Zhou currently sits sixth in the F2 drivers’ standings, having scored podium finishes at Barcelona, Monaco, Paul Ricard and Silverstone, also taking pole at the last-named venue.

Prior to his first tests in the RS17, he demonstrated the Renault-powered E20 in his hometown of Shanghai in April as part of the celebrations surrounding the Chinese Grand Prix, and in July he made another appearance in the Goodwood Festival of Speed.

He is the first driver from mainland China to drive a hybrid-era F1 car.

Guanyu Zhou, Renault Sport Academy, tests Renault 2017 F1 Car in Austria

Guanyu Zhou, Renault Sport Academy, tests Renault 2017 F1 Car in Austria Motorsport.com

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“We have a very clear sporting target for Zhou and we think he has the ability to be one of the best - if not the best - rookies in F2,” Renault F1 boss Cyril Abiteboul told Motorsport.com.

“So far he has had a very strong season, maybe apart from Baku, which is a difficult track for certain conditions. Every other single race, he has delivered in according to his target.

"For the rest, he has the opportunities to drive an F1 car with us. But his focus has to be what he has to do in his own championship.”

Motorsport.com understands Zhou could be in line for further F1 tests this year if certain conditions are met.

Guanyu Zhou, Renault Sport Academy, tests Renault 2017 F1 Car in Austria

Guanyu Zhou, Renault Sport Academy, tests Renault 2017 F1 Car in Austria Motorsport.com

Motorsport.com