Zhou pleased to get first points of the year in Melbourne – but Bottas calls on Alfa Romeo to 'figure out' their lack of pace
There were contrasting fortunes down at Alfa Romeo in Melbourne, after Zhou Guanyu finished in the top 10 for the first time this season, while team mate Valtteri Bottas endured a “lonely” race to the chequered flag in 11th.
With Bottas and Sergio Perez starting in the pit lane, Zhou started in what became the back row of the grid – alongside Logan Sargeant – in P17. But the Chinese racer then produced some strong overtakes, while benefitting from the red flags, to make his way through the field.
Zhou then took the chequered flag in P10, but gained a position after Carlos Sainz was given a five-second time penalty – for his collision with Fernando Alonso – promoting the Alfa Romeo sophomore up one position.
After jumping out of the cockpit in Melbourne, a satisfied Zhou said: “Obviously at the end of the day it was a good result for me to grab my first points of the season. But, if the red flag didn’t come, we could have finished maybe P8, P7.
“I was happy with the progress we made because we were starting at the back of the grid today. The car was a lot more racy compared to yesterday, so I feel like I was able to fight in the mix with the guys around me. So, I was happy.”
When quizzed on whether their Sunday performance at Albert Park bodes well for Alfa Romeo moving forward to Baku, Zhou responded: “Yeah, exactly. For us as a team we haven’t been the most consistent midfield team so far.
“But there is plenty of work [happening, so] I’m sure we can get over it, and to be working through this reasonably long April break, and hopefully come back stronger, and to be keep fighting together with the others.”
As for Bottas, he was left to lament his bad luck, as the Finn lost time pitting for fresh rubber prior to the first two red flags, meaning he came out at the back of the field, without gaining the advantage he had hoped for, and was left to endure a “lonely” afternoon in Melbourne.
“There was not that much action until the action started at the end!” said Bottas, who won in Melbourne back in 2019. “It was for me quite unfortunate that we took a risk on the strategy. I pitted on Lap 1 onto the hard tyre, and [aimed] to do the whole race with the hards.
“But then the red flag after meant that everyone else was pretty much on the same strategy, so I couldn’t take advantage of that. Then I pitted for the softs before the end just before the red flag came, and then everybody was on the soft again. I just didn’t have much luck on the red flags today.”
He added: “It has [been a difficult weekend]. Definitely off the pace from where we thought we should be. So, something to look into. I’m actually glad that there is a bit of time before the next race so we can figure out something.”
When asked whether the team understood the problems affecting them so far this year, Bottas answered: “Some ideas. Some ideas. But we need to make sure we fully understand everything.”