The 22-year-old’s historic moment will come on March 20 in the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix.
Zhou’s team-mate will be the vastly experienced Finnish pilot Valtteri Bottas, who moved from Mercedes where he had played second fiddle to seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton. Zhou and Bottas will bid to improve on Alfa Romeo’s return of just 13 points last season. The two drivers were able to give the car a spin testing in Barcelona last week although Bottas only managed 10 laps and Zhou 41 on Friday.
“I am fully pumped up for the season and seeing the C42 (the car) in the livery in which I will race it definitely makes it real,” said Zhou on the team website. “We are at the beginning of a new era, with new cars and new regulations, and this creates an opportunity for all teams to make progress since we are all starting from scratch. I can’t wait to be on the grid with this car and work with my team to bring home the results we are targeting together.”
Bottas, 32, said he was on tenterhooks as to how things will go in Bahrain. “What is exciting is that we have no idea how that first race is going to pan out,” he said. “Testing helped us confirm our expectations of where we stand, the progress we have made with the car, but now we are getting closer to the moment that really matters.”
Alfa Romeo team principal Frederic Vasseur said it was an exciting moment for all those involved in creating the car he hopes will reflect their efforts with success on the track. “The start of the season is always an exciting time, one in which we see the fruit of the work of hundreds of people over a long period of time,” he said.
“The C42 is a car we look forward to seeing racing, not just because it is the first we built in this new regulations cycle, one in which racing should be closer and more thrilling, but because we have the utmost confidence in this car helping the team make a big step forward towards the front of the grid.”