Bis now, Zhou Guanyu has largely gone under the radar. He is known to be the first Chinese in Formula 1, to be one of 64 drivers to score championship points in his debut and to bring a substantial dowry to his marriage to Alfa Sauber. There is talk of ten million dollars that his family is said to have raised. The Zhous are among the largest car dealers in China. The man, who is now making the TV numbers skyrocket in his home country, was not particularly noticeable in the junior classes. He never became champion.
Zhou has also been known to a wider audience since last Sunday. The Formula 1 newcomer survived an accident at Silverstone that belongs to the category of which it is said: 20 years ago he would not have survived. The 23-year-old from Shanghai’s Alfa Sauber went upside down in a start collision, skidded 200 meters across the tarmac and gravel bed in a spate of sparks, and then somersaulted over all the barriers into the protective fence separating the grandstand from the circuit.