Alpine junior Guanyu Zhou believes he will be in a better place to compete in 2021 having finally gotten the monkey off his back and taken a first Formula 2 win, ridding himself of the pressure that came with it.

Signing on for a third season with UNI-Virtuosi, Zhou will return to the grid on the back of a hit-and-miss sophomore season which saw him improve his points tally and Championship position, but fail to mount the title charge he expected from himself.

For Zhou, the Sprint Race win in Round 10 at Sochi was proof of the level he was performing at, having come so close on a number of occasions.

“It took quite a lot of pressure off my shoulder,” said Zhou on his first F2 win. “I said before the season, even in my rookie season, I wanted that first victory.

“I had come close a number of times, like in Austria at the start of the season or at Monza when we were flying through the field before I had a technical issue. Getting the win takes the pressure off my shoulders.

“I wouldn’t say the pressure really affected me a lot, but it was frustrating because we got to the middle of the season and we were still having bad luck. Failures, crashes, whatever, and it was such a tight championship, so one bad result had a big effect on the title. The race I lost in Austria, that cost me right at the start.”

Zhou believes that he has learned from the disappointment that he experienced at times in 2020 and will arrive at Round 1 in Bahrain this season even better prepared than he did the year prior.

“I have learned a lot more on the mental side because it was been really tough at times if I am honest,” he continued. “But, every time something went wrong, I came back from it and managed to get a decent result the next time out. I was able to reset my mind.

“Even if we struggled in Qualifying, we managed to get back up there in the races. I think our pace was good. I don't know how many times I started at the back and managed to get up to the top five. Even in the sprint races, we managed to do that without pit stop strategies and purely on speed and tyre management. I think that proves what we had last season.”