Alfa Romeo Orlen star Zhou Guanyu, now aged 23, came to Sheffield as a 12-year-old, unable to speak English, to race for Handsworth-based Strawberry Racing and spent three years in the city, winning British and European titles, before being signed by Ferrari's Formula One young driver academy.
Tomorrow he will line up for the British Grand Prix at Silverstone.
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He told ITV’s Jonathan Brown: “It (Sheffield) just really helped me move forward, that’s where I improved most my English because I couldn’t say a word,"
“I learned a lot about racing, driving, competition but more about the lifestyle. It made me more mature because coming here young at school, in a completely new environment and racing, was tough."
“I really like chips with gravy, I think that's a Sheffield thing, no? When I came back to the city a few years ago that was the first thing I tried to find... In Sheffield it's much more relaxed and the concentration means you can focus on either your job or your dream."
This week he was reunited with his former team via an online chat ahead of the British Grand Prix at Silverstone.
Strawberry Racing's office manager Sue Ellis told Calendar: “We all love him to bits. It’s amazing, it’s so nice to see someone we had at grassroots and travel to F1. It’s a fairytale and he’s living his dream - this is what he always wanted to do and it’s nice we played a small part."