Alfa Romeo Formula 1 rookie Guanyu Zhou credits a legend from a sport that he first became passionate about as a child for his choice of number 24.
Zhou will make history in March at Bahrain being the first Chinese driver to take his place on an F1 starting grid thanks to Alfa Romeo.
Since 2014, any driver making their F1 debut has been required to select an available race number before competing in their first Grand Prix. However, for some drivers, such as Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen, their number has become an integral part of their brand or image.
The single-digit or double-digit picks are frequently accompanied by personal anecdotes, and Zhou is no exception. According to the 22-year-old, he chose #24 since it was the number on the jersey of his childhood hero, NBA legend Kobe Bryant.
“Kobe Bryant was a great inspiration for me when I was more interested in basketball than in motorsport,” the Chinese driver said.
“What made the most impression on me was his work ethic. Although he was considered the best player of his era, he worked tirelessly on himself.”
“He got up at four in the morning, started exercising, then took his kids to school and continued exercising. In addition, 24 is four times six, and six is a lucky number in my home country.”
Bryant died in a horrific helicopter crash in January of 2020, but his legacy, which began on the basketball court but spread far beyond it throughout his time in the NBA, lingers on. With the Lakers, Bryant won two NBA championships while wearing the number 24. The squad has permanently retired the number since the tragic death of the great player.