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British F1 hopeful Callum Ilott has been left devastated after missing out on a place on the starting grid in 2022 to Guanyu Zhou.
Ilott, who is Ferrari's test driver and Alfa Romeo's second reserve driver, had been tipped to get his big break in the sport next season.
But that opportunity will now go to Zhou, who received a message of support from Ilott on Instagram following the announcement.
Sharing a picture of himself with the newly-promoted star, Ilott wrote: "All the best mate," and tagged his former F2 rival.
Zhou becomes Formula One's first Chinese driver after signing with Alfa Romeo, where he will partner current Mercedes star Valtteri Bottas in 2022. He replaces Italian pilot Antonio Giovinazzi.
The 22-year-old is an accomplished driver in his own right and could yet win the Formula 2 Championship this season, but money has undeniably played a factor in his rise to F1.
Zhou will take with him to Alfa Romeo a not inconsiderable financial package said to be worth millions of pounds, important funding for a team towards the back of the grid.
Team principal Frederic Vasseur told BBC Sport that money was indeed a factor in signing the Chinese driver over British star Ilott.
Should Callum Ilott have received an F1 drive in 2022? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.
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"In the end, our sponsors also want to be happy and develop their commitment to the future, and the financial side can't be hidden," Vasseur said.
"The first Chinese driver in F1 – it's mega news for us, for the company, for our sponsors and also for F1 in general.
"A team has to become sustainable at one stage. It is not just about the Chinese sponsors, it is about the exposure we will give to our current partners.
"F1 today is a bit tough. If you are not in the top two plus Ferrari, the exposure is very low and this is probably the best way we will have to move up the classification of exposure."
That will be of little consolation to Ilott, who reacted to the news by posting a picture of himself on social media with the caption: "Maybe one day #illbeback."
In the comments section, Ilott replied to a fan asking if he should be a reserve driver still and said: "no point watching other people drive around for another year."
Alfa Romeo's decision to go with Zhou has confirmed the full grid of 20 drivers for next season, leaving the British star without a seat once more.
- Formula One
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