A top ten result in the Spanish Grand Prix came as “a massive relief” for Alfa Romeo, admits Zhou Guanyu.
Alfa Romeo had scored on just two occasions so far in 2023 prior to the race in Barcelona, but Zhou delivered an impressive drive to finish ninth and move the team level with Haas in the constructors’ championship. After fighting with Yuki Tsunoda before securing two points, Zhou says it’s a boost for the whole team.
“That feels like a massive relief for us, and for the team here and back in Hinwil,” Zhou said. “It was a tricky start to the season for the team. We finally got some points that we deserved, and the car was mega. I was feeling comfortable out there, taking the right chance when I had the opportunities. We executed the race.
“ I would say (it’s one of my best drives). It’s one of the one or two on the table.”
Zhou crossed the line in tenth place but was promoted due to a five-second time penalty that Tsunoda was given for forcing the Chinese driver off track, something Zhou says was an obvious penalty in his view.
“It was very straightforward. I was ahead before braking into Turn 1. Mid-corner, I was actually giving a lot of space and then I saw he wasn’t stopping, tried to release the brake, ran me off, which I had to take avoiding action on the escape road, otherwise we would be crashing together.
“That was tricky after that, because I had so much rubbish on my tires. In the end, I was able to keep behind in the right position and get the position back.”
The result came with Zhou’s teammate Valtteri Bottas struggling massively in Spain, with the Finn believing he had an issue with his car in much the same way Charles Leclerc felt for Ferrari on Saturday.
“For me it’s pretty clearly there was something not right with the car, because I was more than one second per lap off, just sliding around,” Bottas said. “Whether it was a mechanical or aero issue I cannot say, because the balance was not, like, way off, but it was just lack of overall grip. So, we’ll see if there’s something damaged in the car…
“Either something mechanical has been installed wrongly, before qualifying, something that affects the ride height or something, or there’s something aero wise. I would have thought so.
“I’m really pleased that we got two points – I just had a chat with Zhou and he was saying the pace was quite good. It’s good, but not for me! It’s good to see that the upgrades are doing the job.”