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Zhou reveals he was a victim of bullying due to his nationality

Zhou Guanyu is enjoying his debut season in Formula 1, racing for the Alfa Romeo team, the sports first Chinese driver 'living the dream' after some dark moments where he thought the pinnacle of motorsports may be a little too far out of his reach.

Like several other rookie drivers before him, Zhou Guanyu started hisF1 career off by scoring points in his maiden Grand Prix. However, for the next sevenraces, he struggled to make it into the top 10 before crossing the line in eighthplace in Canada a week ago. Feeling a lot stronger in his role in the sport, Zhou haslooked back over his early days in racing, starting with karting, and explainedhow there were times he thought he wouldn't make it all the way to the top. Speaking with RacingNews365.com , Zhou discussed how he made itfrom karting to F1 and dealt with the racism and bullying from hiscompetitors because he was the only Chinese driver in the series.

The only Chinese driver in the series

"I have to say in [my] karting days, [it was] not too bad. It's more like it's climbing up to the level of single-seaters, because basicallyin the karting days it's quite straightforward," he explained. "I was able to do pretty well after one year of practicingall that, but there were times in the karting days with people crashing youout, pushing you off on purpose, because I was basically the only Chinese facearound the paddock." Despite the bullying he received, Zhou put his head down andconcentrated on getting solid results, and that's how he secured some well-deservedrespect. "You know, you get kind of like a little bit bullied, with other more important or more experienced drivers, because that'scausing a lot of bumper racing together," he added. "So, it's tough, but then it wasn'tsomething special. I was able to earn my respects quietly by doing well ontrack.”

Zhou: When you're young, you think the dream is very real

As he worked his way up through the junior formulae, Zhourealised more and more just how hard it was going to be to break into F1. "It's more like the recent years, maybe especially like, twoyears ago, in 2020 in Formula 2, because it's like you are very close to thedream, but then I think when you're young, you think the dream is very real or easyto reach," he commented. "The older you get, the more mature you get, you realise howdifficult is to have a door open for you to get into Formula 1. "Firstly, I was thinking, you get Super Licence points andyou're ready for F1, but then after I got a Super Licence, I really felt likethere's other things that have to be around in perfect timing to have a seatfor you. "That's very tough. You have to manage yourself quitedifficultly, because there's your competitors or other people [who] try totake you down for it. "You have to just really use yourself and use yourteam to try and give myself the maximum I have in every race we can and not doany mistakes."

Zhou looks back on "difficult times"

So, has he ever felt like walking away? Not really, but he didneed to take some time out to recharge his batteries to enable him to come backstronger. "It's tough. I remember, there was one time I went back home for maybe just five days, not telling anyone, like noone else from outside the world apart from our family," he went on to explain. "I just went there andwent back just to be fully relaxed, like recharge, per se. But yeah, it'sdifficult times.”

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