RACE DEBRIEF

    Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu put in a momentous debut drive on Sunday in Bahrain as he scored a point for his team, backing up a double-points finish, and the rookie was left reflecting on an “emotional” and “intense” maiden F1 race.

    Zhou - China’s first full-time F1 driver - finished a superb tenth on his first appearance, with team mate Valtteri Bottas taking a brilliant P6 as Alfa Romeo enjoyed their first double-points finish since the 2020 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.

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    “Well it’s amazing, I’m so speechless,” said the rookie. “It was so emotional, so intense – not physically [but] mentally – and to be scoring my first Formula 1 point on my debut is something I would only have dreamed of one year ago or two weeks ago.

    “Everything comes so quickly – I’m just so happy, so proud of the team behind me, proud of my team mate, we’ve worked so hard together to maximise the car – and a huge reward for us. It’s a day that I’ll never forget for my whole [life].”

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    Zhou found himself going toe-to-toe with Hamilton when the Briton emerged from the pits

    Zhou also managed to pull off a raft of overtaking manoeuvres, having fallen from 15th to 19th on the opening lap – making it up to 12th before pitting from his starting set of tyres. He was clearly over the moon to have overcome the issue that set him back on Lap 1.

    “I had a problem in Turn 1 – I went into anti-stall, had to go into neutral and restart everything. That was a bit strange, and then I knew my chance to get into the points was very low so I was like, 'fully attack', and tried to only put my eyes forward.”

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    He even gave Lewis Hamilton a scare as the seven-time champion emerged from the pits behind Zhou and, on cold tyres, was swiftly passed by the Alfa Romeo.

    “Even when Lewis came out on hards, I overtook him, even though I knew he was much quicker, because every opportunity I could not miss. I wanted to gain that gap I lost, so I was – I don’t know how that confidence came – but I think I was eager to want to finish in the points,” continued Zhou.

    “It really means so much that all this happened… I always said I deserve to be here and today I showed that – it’s a big relief.”

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