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Bottas suspects car damage scuppered his efforts in Saudi Arabia as Zhou eyes Alfa Romeo updates

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Alfa Romeo driver Valtteri Bottas pointed to possible car damage as the cause of his decline during the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, having limped home as the final finisher in a lapped 18th place.

Debris was sent flying on the first lap of Sunday’s race in Jeddah after Oscar Piastri made contact with Pierre Gasly, forcing the McLaren driver and team mate Lando Norris – who hit some of the littered carbon – into the pits for front wing changes.

WINNERS AND LOSERS: Who thrived under the lights at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix?

As one of the drivers in the train behind, Bottas was also affected, commenting: “The car didn’t feel right, we couldn’t get any grip from the beginning of the race and we need to figure out exactly what happened.

“I ran over a large piece of debris on Lap 1, so perhaps I was carrying some damage to the floor: we’ll look at the car and at the data and understand more to prepare for Melbourne.

“I believe our car is much better than what we’ve shown tonight: Zhou [Guanyu] had a much better pace, so I don’t think this weekend was very representative, and I am confident we can be back fighting for points in Australia.”

‘Top 10 was definitely possible’ laments Zhou after he finishes 13th in Jeddah

As Bottas touched on, Zhou had a cleaner run to P13 in the other C43, just over 10 seconds off the points-paying positions, with the Chinese racer setting his sights on upgrades that Alfa Romeo will bring to the next round in Australia.

“We looked strong in the first stint, our pace was good and it seemed the top 10 was within reach,” said Zhou, before pointing to a critical moment of his race.

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

“Of course, track position always makes the difference on street circuits like this one, and, unfortunately, I got stuck in a DRS train once the Safety Car came out.

“My race was compromised from that moment onwards, and there wasn’t much more we could do. [It] just hasn’t been our day, but I think we can achieve much more as a team going forward.

“We get a new chance in a few weeks in Melbourne, where we will be bringing some upgrades to our car: hopefully they’ll allow us to make the step forward we need to continue fighting for points.”

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