Fernando Alonso has praised Guanyu Zhou after the Chinese driver took his place during Friday's first practice session at the Austrian Grand Prix.
Formula 2 star Zhou was given the opportunity to make his FP1 debut with Alpine and finished the hour in 14th place. Alonso felt that Zhou put in an impressive performance and also enjoyed working alongside the 22-year-old.
"Yes, it was good to share the day with him and the preparation on the last week," Alonso told RacingNews365.com and other select media. "He’s very professional, he’s hard-working on the simulator the last couple of weeks, and I think he did enjoy today.
"He executed FP1 perfectly in my opinion, slowly building the pace, and no stress with many things. It was not an easy FP1 with traffic, with the [practice] start at the end, so there are a couple of exercises that you need to execute - like the start, the formation lap, etcetera - that he did manage very well, so it was a good day for him for sure."
Alonso might have had to sit out FP1 but felt that he quickly made up for it when he returned for FP2, having finished the session with the eighth fastest time.
"I was up to speed in Lap 1 in FP2 and the car felt very similar to last weekend, so it was a good opportunity when you have two weekends in a row on the same track to give the FP1 to the young drivers," the Spaniard explained.
"So let’s see if later in the year there are more opportunities for Zhou."
Alonso arrives at the Austrian Grand Prix following a run of good results, having finished sixth, eighth and ninth respectively in Azerbaijan, France and Styria. The 39-year-old currently sits in 11th place in the Drivers' Championship.