Alfa Romeo boss in war of words with Antonio Giovinazzi after slamming Guanyu Zhou call up

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Alfa Romeo boss Fred Vasseur has defended his team’s decision to bring in Guanyu Zhou to replace driver Antonio Giovinazzi – and fired shots at the Italian’s attitude. Earlier this week, it was announced Zhou will become the first Chinese driver in Formula 1 history in 2022. 

The 22-year-old will partner Valterri Bottas, with the Finn replacing compatriot Kimi Raikkonen after the former world champion announced his intention to retire at the end of the season.

Giovinazzi was reportedly furious with the decision, leading to his relationship breaking down with the Swiss-based outfit. 

The Italian took to social media after Alfa Romeo announced Zhou’s arrival, writing: “F1 is about emotion, talent, cars, risk, speed. But when money rules it can be ruthless.

“I believe in small and large victories achieved thanks to one’s own means.”

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The 27-year-old was clearly frustrated with the decision to bring in Zhou, claiming the financial backing was the reason for his selection – and Vasseur responded professionally. 

“Well, honestly, I think it’s important for him to close the chapter, at least on this season, doing well on track,” Vasseur said on This Week with Will Buxton.

“I saw the comments. Honestly, I’m not a big fan of this kind of attitude: also because the team gave him the chance to do three seasons in F1, and Alfa Romeo gave him the chance to do three seasons in F1. 

“Tons of drivers would have dreamed to do it.

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“Now he will have other challenges. He will have to do well in that other challenge, and perhaps he will come back in F1 in the future. 

“But it’s a small world and we have to stay professional.”

Giovinazzi joined Alfa Romeo ahead of the 2019 season, and went eight races before he scored his first points with a P10 finish at the Austrian Grand Prix.

He is yet to finish ahead of teammate Raikkonen and with just a single point to his name, the Italian is behind the Finn once again.

With Giovinazzi set to join Dragon Penske Autosport in Formula E for 2022, Vasseur is confident the combination of Bottas’ experience and rookie Zhou will make for a successful partnership.

“I think for Valtteri it was important to have this position into a team,” Vasseur added. 

“When you are the teammate of Lewis (Hamilton), you know perfectly that it won’t be an easy place, but you will be a little bit in the shadow of your team-mate.

“I think it’s an important step into the career of Valtteri, even if we don’t imagine to fight with Mercedes next year.

“The position into the team will be completely different and I think for him, and for his own perspective, this was an important step.”

Formula 1 travels to the Losail Circuit for the Qatar Grand Prix on November 21, with Red Bull star Max Verstappen holding a 14-point lead over Mercedes’ Hamilton.

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