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Alfa Romeo's Zhou pleased with the 'potential in the car' despite 'unlucky' P16 finish in Bahrain

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Zhou Guanyu finished 16th at the season opening Bahrain Grand Prix last weekend. And while he was left to rue his luck with the timing of a late Virtual Safety Car, he took comfort from the potential displayed by Alfa Romeo’s 2023 car, the C43.

The sophomore driver lined up 13th on the grid, just behind team mate Valtteri Bottas in 12th. But while the Finn went up into the top 10, a slow start dropped the Chinese driver down to the order, leaving him 17th after the first lap.

Zhou recovered to get into the top 10 before Alfa Romeo opted to swap his hard tyres for softs for his final stint. However, that strategy was compromised when the Virtual Safety Car – caused by Charles Leclerc stopping on track – allowed other drivers to put on fresher rubber, causing Zhou to slide down the order.

READ MORE: Quick start and Alfa Romeo’s ‘aggressive’ strategy key to points finish in Bahrain, says Bottas

Speaking after the race, Zhou said: “I was a bit compromised after Lap 1, but then I was kind of stuck in a DRS train... I was a bit unlucky with the VSC obviously in the window when everybody else went for new softs.

“But overall, there wasn’t much to do out there. But still, I feel like there was a little bit of potential in the car. It felt a little bit better than the qualifying pace.”

Zhou says ‘there is potential in the car’ despite lowly finish in Bahrain

Bottas ended the race in P8, which Zhou believes shows the potential of the C43, as he called the car “a good starting point” for the team, as they look to improve on their P6 finish in the constructors’ standings from last season.

ICYMI: Go behind the scenes with the best social media from the Bahrain Grand Prix

“I mean, that’s the plan [to work on this car],” said Zhou, who took his first points in Formula 1 in his debut race in Bahrain last season. “Obviously, it’s good to see Valtteri score the points for the team after a difficult start.

“I think it’s a good starting point considering where we were last race, which was in 2022; I feel like there’s still a long way to go, we just need to keep finding these margins.”

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