Zhou Guanyu takes Bahrain F2, his first feature race win

Society & Culture

Zhou Guanyu, who is already China’s greatest driver at age 21, began his 2021 F2 season with an exciting win at Bahrain. In his current form, he could make F1 — which would make him the first Chinese driver to do so — sooner than later.

Zhōu Guānyǔ 周冠宇 started the 2021 Formula 2 season perfectly on Sunday, winning the Bahrain International Circuit.

Starting from pole position, the 21-year-old’s race was far from easy. The UNI-Virtuosi driver began on a harder compound of tires, and immediately was overtaken by other drives, falling out of the top 10. A fortuitous safety car intervened to give Zhou’s crew time to switch to a softer tire.

Passing his teammate Felipe Drugovich on Lap 21, Zhou showed patience and skill to then overtake Oscar Piastri and Richard Verschoor to take the lead. He would hold on for his first marquee win.

Zhou — who is China’s greatest driver — looks like a much more mature driver behind the wheel. A nearly flawless drive made harder by poor team strategy at the beginning of the race will give Zhou extra satisfaction.

After winning the Asian Formula 3 title at the start of this year, the Chinese driver looks more assured than ever. As one of the favorites in Formula 2, Zhou could find himself in F1 sooner rather than later. He would be the first Chinese driver to ever compete in F1.


What’s next for Nike and other Western apparel companies in China after consumer boycott?


With sports apparel giants Nike, Adidas, Puma, and Under Armor all recently declaring they would not use Xinjiang cotton, many Chinese celebrities and consumers have said they would boycott those companies.

Nike has especially been singled out, following the emergence of a statement it made about Xinjiang, with an unspecified date. “We are concerned about reports of forced labor in, and connected to, the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region,” the statement read.

On Saturday, nationalistic tabloid Global Times called on the Chinese Football Association to drop Nike as its primary kit manufacturer.

China’s national basketball team also plays in Nike, as well as its track and field squad. In fact, it was only in January that Chinese athletics was proudly announcing a long-term extension to their contract with Nike. That deal runs until 2033.

Perhaps China’s domestic sports apparel companies stand to benefit. Reacting to the storm, Chinese sportswear brand Anta announced that it would quit the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) and continue to use Xinjiang cotton. (BCI, a nonprofit that promotes global cotton sustainability, recently suspended its activities in Xinjiang.)

“We have noticed the BCI’s statement. We are deeply concerned about the matter and are starting the process to exit the organization,” Anta said in the statement.

“As a company that is devoted to environment protection, Anta became a member of the BCI. The purpose of our cooperation was to promote the sustainable development of global cotton farming and supply for cotton farmers and environment protection.

“We have been purchasing and using cotton produced from China, including the Xinjiang region, and we will continue to purchase and use cotton from China.”

Anta’s share price has risen 13.2% since Friday.


Other Stories:

China’s Own Goal: Xi Jinping, a lifelong soccer fan, hoped to marshal China’s collective spirit behind “the beautiful game.” In reality, he welcomed a fleet of vultures to feast on it. (The Wire China)

Interview: UFC Champion Zhang on coping with pressure, fighting Namajunas (Xinhua)

China mulls lifetime doping bans (Sixth Tone)

Why authoritarians love the Olympics (Foreign Affairs)

How China develops freeskiers (Valley Reporter)

Team China claims 5 Olympic Figure skating spots (Xinhua)

Eileen Gu hopes to inspire young women in China through sports, via SportsCenter Asia:

The China Sports Column runs every week on SupChina.