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Guanyu Zhou

Zhou refusing to be buried under never-felt-before weight of pressure

Zhou Guanyu failed to progress out of Q1 during qualifying at his home Grand Prix on Saturday.

Zhou China quali
To news overview © XPBimages

Zhou Guanyu has conceded that the pressure he is under this weekend at the Chinese Grand Prix is at a level he has "never felt before", with him being the first home F1 driver the Asian nation has ever had.

The Stake F1 driver has received a huge roar every lap he has completed at the Shanghai International Circuit, with the home hero having received a heroes welcome.

He shined on Friday where he progressed to SQ3 and performed brilliantly on Saturday morning where he missed out on a point in the sprint race by one position; however, his weekend hit a sour point during qualifying.

Zhou locked up at Turn 14 on his final hot lap which resulted in him being eliminated in Q1, leaving him to start his home race from P16.

When asked by RacingNews365 if he was disappointed to be eliminated in Q1 after his stellar performance up to that point, Zhou said: "Yeah, I mean Turn 14 I locked up. Went straight on, almost straight, that's where the lap time was for Q2.

"Had better days, let's say, but still, I'm sure we can make up for it tomorrow. And I feel energy is high and I'm going to give it everything in the Grand Prix."

'Very special feeling'

The level of support the Chinese driver has received this weekend has been phenomenal, with it having demonstrated in many ways the importance of F1 having a driver from China.

However, as Zhou has discovered, immense support also comes with pressure on a level never experienced before, which he has had no choice but to deal with.

"Yeah, I mean before FP1, before the first quali yesterday, of course, I feel very [high amount of] attention and also very pressured," said Zhou.

"A very high level never felt before. Still I feel very relieved after yesterday after even this morning. And of course, things can still happen, change quickly like today the mistake, out of Q1.

"But still I feel the energy where it really gets me and that really boosts me to have this proud crowd and support all over this paddock."

Looking ahead to Sunday's race, Zhou is planning on embracing the atmosphere rather than succumbing to the pressure.

Whilst the intense pressure has been very new to him, the 24-year-old is treating it as an "honour" and will reflect on how he dealt with the newfound stardom after the Grand Prix.

"I think tomorrow won't be for me to be thinking about the pressure in terms of the crowd because I will enjoy every second moment of that Grand Prix, added Zhou.

"Of course, my first time coming here to have a Chinese Grand Prix is a very special feeling. And for me, I feel like just focus on my job and I can reflect on that afterwards.

"But yeah, so far, I just never had something happen like this before in my life. So it is great to have this. Not in terms of attention, just more like this honour to be the person getting supported back home."

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RESULTS 2024 F1 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix - Qualifying