RACE DEBRIEF

    What a difference two weeks makes. Valtteri Bottas lamented a “compromised” session in Barcelona but left the opening day of Bahrain’s Official Pre-Season Test buoyed by his solid stint at the wheel of the Alfa Romeo C42.

    The Finnish driver’s first afternoon in Spain was curtailed to just 23 laps due to reliability issues, but in Bahrain he managed a very productive 66 tours at the wheel in the afternoon – ending up seventh overall after a late flying effort.

    READ MORE: Gasly fastest on first day of Official Pre-Season Test in Bahrain

    His elation was clear, as he said: “Yes, I’m much happier, it was actually a good day. I’m proud of the guys, we did a good recovery because Barcelona was far from ideal, with many issues.

    “But the afternoon session was really seamless; through the whole run plan except for the red flag at the end, we just dropped one quick run but I managed to first initially get a feel and then focus on some set-up work.”

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    Zhou had a small stoppage in the morning, but that did little to rattle Alfa Romeo

    There was a small hiccup in the morning when rookie team mate Zhou Guanyu was forced to stop in the pit lane – briefly interrupting his run plan – but Bottas shrugged that off too.

    “We initially thought it was a bigger issue with the hydraulics but it turned out not to be too big so he continued running. I think he missed one or two runs, that’s it. Nothing major today, and I hope the other two days continue like today,” he said.

    Bottas 'much happier' than in Spain after Thursday in Bahrain

    Bottas was also pleased that Alfa Romeo were making meaningful on-track progress towards their goal of rising above ninth in the constructors’ championship – where they finished in 2021 – and towards the midfield.

    “It’s nice to see good progress from the first test. I think we are heading in the right direction – we did some interesting set-up work today, the first proper data we actually started to learn about the balance and the behaviour of the car.”

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    Yet, the ex-Mercedes Grand Prix winner did say that his new employers were playing catch-up, given their reliability struggles in Spain.

    “For sure yes, many other teams got work done in Barcelona and that wasn’t the case for us, so yes, we are catching up – but today was a good day, and it’s a pretty long season ahead…”

    Testing continues on Friday as teams get to grips with their brand-new cars, the March 20 Bahrain Grand Prix looming into view. Here's a list of who's driving on the second day.

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