Zhou Guanyu makes history in ‘dream’ F1 debut

Society & Culture

Also: Chinese sportswear giant Li-Ning’s products are being held at U.S. ports after a probe found North Korean labor within its supply chain.

Chinese driver Zhōu Guānyǔ 周冠宇 had a dream start to his F1 career, finishing 10th at the season opener in Bahrain.

Zhou became the first Chinese driver to start a Grand Prix, and will be the only rookie in Formula One this season.

“It’s amazing, I’m so speechless, you know?” he said after the race. “It was [such an] emotional race, so intense. To be scoring my first-ever Formula One points in my debut is something I would only have dreamed of one year ago or two weeks ago.”

The 22-year-old Shanghai native represents the Alfa Romeo team. He is racing under No. 24, in honor of the late Kobe Bryant.

“He has a very nice attitude, but can also be pushy, and it’s a very good combination,” Alfa Romeo team principal Frédéric Vasseur said. “He knows perfectly well that it will be a challenge, and this is important, but I think that Valtteri and everyone in the team is ready to help him. He has a very open mind, and I’m sure that he will succeed.”

On Sunday, Zhou was bogged down at the start, slipping to last place on the opening lap. By the 10th lap, however, he had fought back to 14th, and spent the following 20 laps fighting with his fellow backmarkers before pulling away to begin his assault on the top 10.

Back in the paddock after finishing, Zhou’s emotion was clear to see.

Zhou has been under the spotlight for his perceived place on the grid owing to the financial support he can bring to his team. But he has managed to silence some of his critics in his debut.

“I think our country’s motorsport fans dreamed of having one countryman represent them and it’s my goal I have been working over the years for that,” Zhou told Reuters.

Teammate Valtteri Bottas, who made his move from Mercedes last year, finished sixth. “This was the best weekend for Alfa since Brazil 2019,” according to The Ringer.


Li-Ning runs into trouble in the U.S.

Photo via Reuters

Chinese sportswear giant Li-Ning’s products are being held at U.S. ports after a probe found North Korean labor within its supply chain.

Under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, the U.S. blocks the imports of products involving North Korean labor, unless evidence can be provided that the goods are not made with forced labor. Li-Ning will have 30 days to make its case.

“To date, during the operation and review process, the group has not discovered any cases of forced labor in the supplier management system,” the company said in a statement. “As a professional sports brand company, the group has a sound corporate governance system in place, strictly complies with the laws, regulations and compliance policies of the PRC, and upholds ethical standards.”

Earlier this month, Norway’s $1.3 trillion sovereign wealth fund excluded Li-Ning from its investments over an unacceptable risk that the company is contributing to human rights abuses in Xinjiang.

Currently, only 1.1% of the company’s revenue comes from outside China.


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