Chinese racer Guanyu Zhou has joined the Renault Sport Academy as the F1 team’s new development driver for the 2019 season.

Guanyu Zhou moves from the Ferrari Driver Academy to join Renault where he will play an important role with the F1 team which includes him driving the team’s simulator and also participate in engineering briefings to help the French manufacturer.

It’s a huge honour to join Renault Sport Racing as an Academy member and the Formula 1 Team’s Development Driver and I can’t wait to get started,” said Guanyu Zhou.Renault has big ambitions – both for the Formula 1 team and the Academy – and that’s something which motivates me.

I know the significance of Renault in China, so I’m especially proud to represent both Renault, as a brand, and China in the racing world. Formula 2 is the next step in my career. It looks to be a competitive field of drivers and there is going to be a lot to learn in a short space of time.

I’ve been working hard during the winter and the three-days Formula 2 testing in Abu Dhabi was hugely beneficial. I’m looking forward to drawing on Renault’s help and advice this season as I aim for success and trophies.

The Chinese racer is graduating to the FIA Formula 2 Championship with UNI-Virtuosi Racing – the team which took over from Russian Time – in 2019 after spending three years in the FIA European Formula 3 Championship. He will be joined by Luca Ghiotto.

Renault Sport Academy Director, Mia Sharizman said: “We’re excited to reveal Guanyu as a Renault Sport Academy member and the team’s Formula 1 Development Driver for this year. Guanyu Zhou has shown his ability as an excellent driver in the competitive European Formula 3 Championship.

We’ve been monitoring Guanyu Zhou for some time and we’re very happy to sign him onto the young driver programme. In Guanyu, we have a hard-working, talented individual and we will be aiming to further develop him this season in the Formula 2 Championship.”

Francois Provost, Groupe Renault’s Asia Pacific Region head added: “China is an important market for Groupe Renault, so to sign one of China’s best young racing drivers is very pleasing, since it will help elevate our brand awareness in China.

This is a further proof to our strategy of ‘In China, For China,’ as we believe it will give a strong boost to the development of motorsport in the country. We anticipate his joining will attract more people to Shanghai, which will witness the 1,000th GP of F1 in April this year.

Guanyu Zhou becomes the latest addition to the Renault academy which is yet to confirm all of its 2019 drivers. Last year they had Jack Aitken, Max Fewtrell, Christian Lundgaard, Sun Yue Yang, Sacha Fenestraz, Arthur Rougier and Victor Martins.

In addition, Artem Markelov took the test and reserve role. For 2019 though, not all of the drivers will feature with Fenestraz already out of the academy. As for the rest, we await confirmation from the French manufacturer.