SportF1Alfa Romeo and the difficulty of having Chinese sponsors...

Alfa Romeo and the difficulty of having Chinese sponsors despite Zhou

Zhou left Formula 2 this season to become the first Chinese driver to start in F1, a promotion celebrated by the bosses of the series, who hope to boost his popularity in the eastern country.

Alfa Romeo was quite open about signing Zhou, as part of the appeal of his signing was that it could open the door to greater business opportunities with his home country.

But while the Swiss outfit has struck deals with a couple of Chinese companies, including SenseTime and AMX , Vasseur says things haven’t gone as quickly as might be expected.

Asked by how the interest from Chinese sponsors has been, Vasseur said: “So far it’s been a bit difficult.

“We have signed with SenseTime [a deal announced on July 1] and we’ve had AMX in the past [announced in February], those are the two main sponsors we have from China.”

“It may take time, I am convinced, but Zhou may have to perform and deliver first to attract new sponsors.”

“But we have a feeling, because we have a lot of contacts, that it is starting to perk up. But it is quite slow.”

“We have now signed our second Chinese sponsor [SenseTime] and it is a good move and I am also happy with it. I know it will be a long process.”

Zhou Guanyu, Alfa Romeo C42

Although Vasseur was always explicit that potential new sponsorship deals were an extra aspect of Zhou’s signing, he has been annoyed with some who suggested the Chinese youngster got his seat just for money.

“You know that in the paddock we have quite a few stupid people, with very little knowledge of our business,” he said of allegations that Guanyu Zhou was signed solely for financial reasons.

“And not giving voice to a stupid is smarter.”

“In the end, I think the best thing is not to talk, but to act. And that’s how we approach the situation.”

“I had a talk with Zhou when those stupid comments came out. I told him, ‘Zhou, never mind, you’ll have to do your job, no matter what others are thinking and saying, you’ll have to do the job. And you have the full support of the team, which is the most important thing”.

“So come on, show everyone that you can do it.”

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