China’s F1 star Zhou Guanyu on Kobe, Netflix, and answering his critics


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With a special guest on the show this week, we rank where F1 rookie Zhou Guanyu sits in China’s sporting landscape today (0:52). The biggest sports story in China is still COVID, with China now stripped of its hosting rights for the 2023 Asian Cup. Given the news, what are chances of China ever hosting a World Cup (2:17)? A discussion on who takes the blame — or the credit — for the early Asian Cup cancellation decision (5:47). Is this a sign we’ll be living with Zero-COVID in China for at least another year (7:22)? And where does that leave the CSL this season (9:00)?

In tennis news, the organizer of the Hong Kong Open says he’s hopeful the tournament can return in 2023 — but it all depends on two small things, COVID and Peng Shuai (9:50). Mercedes F1 boss Toto Wolff says he’d like to see three races in China — hardly the right time to be calling for that (11:51)! Exploring the options for a new circuit from Beijing and Hainan to Yunnan and Tibet (14:46).

F1 driver Zhou Guanyu joins us from Barcelona, where he’s preparing for the Spanish Grand Prix (15:26). He’s started strongly and shares his goals for the rest of the season (17:09). F1 has been a whirlwind so far: Has anything surprised him (18:16)? Next, Zhou talks about his relationship with teammate Valtteri Bottas and the Alfa Romeo team (19:22), and reveals what he’s made of the reaction to his success from fans back at home (20:37).

Not everyone was supportive of the Chinese driver joining the grid: Zhou said he was surprised by that, but hits back at his critics (21:48). The Shanghai native then speaks of his excitement about the prospect of racing at his hometown track (23:40), and shares his memories of previous Chinese Grands Prix in Shanghai (25:10).

The Netflix series Drive to Survive has transformed F1’s popularity in the U.S. and Zhou gives his take on that and the upcoming season (26:40). Back at home, what are the challenges and opportunities for developing motorsport in China and what can he personally do to drive that forward (27:42)? Perhaps surprisingly, Zhou names Kobe Bryant as his biggest inspiration and explains why he’s such a hero (29:06). Finally, he offers some advice for the next generation of Chinese drivers (30:47) and shares what he rates as his top strength as a driver (32:16).