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Bottas and Zhou pin hopes on ‘completely new’ 2024 car after difficult final season for Alfa Romeo

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Alfa Romeo’s final season as title sponsor of the Sauber team ended in disappointment with a point-less showing for Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu in Abu Dhabi.

Zhou’s 17th-place finish and Bottas’ run to 19th at Yas Marina meant the Italian marque bowed out of the sport – following a six-year partnership with Sauber – holding ninth in the constructors’ standings.

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Reflecting on a tricky end to the campaign, which yielded just seven top-10 finishes and 16 points for the outfit, Bottas said: “The pace was not great today, I think that was the biggest issue of the race.

“We also tried two different strategies between the cars; I went for the one-stop hoping it would work but for us but it just didn’t, the tyres just wouldn’t last and the pace was just way off the window.

Bottas: Lack of raw pace in Abu Dhabi ‘the story of our year’

“Unfortunately, it’s slightly the story of the year – ultimately the biggest issue has been the raw pace. On the other hand, I’m glad it’s over now and next year everyone starts from zero again.”

Bottas hopes the recent technical reshuffle at the Swiss operation, which has seen James Key take over as Technical Director following his exit from McLaren, will trigger a change in fortunes next year.

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“It’s been many changes in the team lately and I think positive changes,” he said. “Also the concept of next year’s car looks interesting, so in that sense I do have hopes. Now we need to work hard for that and try again.”

Zhou agreed with Bottas as he described wholesale changes to the car’s concept under F1’s latest ground effect era and pointed to a “much bigger” improvement that should come over the winter.

‘I’m we’ll take a much bigger step’ – Zhou already ‘optimistic’ about next year’s car

“It’s been a long season but what was clear was that we already planned a few races ago that next year we will change completely the car, the whole concept of the design,” he commented.

“I’m looking forward to obviously trying next year’s car because I think with the field, just picking up two or three tenths a lap you will be battling from the back to the midfield, so it’s super-important.

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“Let’s see how everything goes over the winter but I’m quite optimistic about the new package we’ll have and I’m sure that will be a much bigger step.”

Alfa Romeo were involved in a battle for seventh in the constructors’ standings but ultimately lost out to Williams by 12 points and AlphaTauri by nine, while Haas brought up the rear.

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