RACE DEBRIEF

    Newly-minted Alfa Romeo driver Valtteri Bottas said he was “proud” after qualifying sixth – three places ahead of his Mercedes replacement George Russell – on his Saturday debut for the team, and ahead of tomorrow’s season-opening race at the Bahrain Grand Prix.

    Bottas – who extended his streak of always qualifying in the top 10, which stretches way back to Abu Dhabi in 2016 with Williams – described his qualifying as “super smooth”, while also revealing his pride at the work done at Hinwil, Alfa Romeo’s factory in Switzerland.

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    “It was a really smooth quali,” said Bottas. “From one lap to another I always managed to find a tenth or so, no issues. Was a super smooth quali for us. I am proud of the team, everyone in the team and of course in the factory.

    “P6, it’s good for us. I think we did know that if we got everything right, we had a chance to get into Q3, it was extremely close. But got some good laps in there, and the Q3 lap, I was really pleased with that. P6 is really good for our team, and the motivation and seeing that it is actually possible and it’s a reality.”

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    Bottas believes the race pace of the Alfa Romeo could allow them to compete with Mercedes in the race

    Bottas – whose teammate Zhou Guanyu qualified in P15 – believes that Alfa Romeo have the pace to compete in the race on Sunday. And while he believes that Ferrari and Red Bull are ‘out of reach’, he did not rule out a battle with his former employers Mercedes.

    READ MORE: Rejuvenated Alfa Romeo can be in fight for Q3 in Bahrain, vows Bottas

    “I think our race pace, if anything, it looked actually better than single lap pace, so let’s see,” he added. “I think Ferrari, Red Bull, I feel like they are a bit out of reach for everyone, but who knows, maybe we can battle Mercedes. That could be fun!”

    Bottas will hoping for another successful day with Alfa Romeo at Sunday’s Bahrain Grand Prix at the Bahrain International Circuit, which kicks off at 1800 local time as the 2022 Formula 1 season begins.

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