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HALF TERM REPORT: Alfa Romeo – Where do they stand after dropping down the pecking order in 2023?

Junior Staff Writer

Nadim Bart-Williams
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SPA - Zhou Guanyu (Alfa Romeo) during the Grand Prix of Belgium at the Circuit de

Alfa Romeo finished sixth in the championship last year – their best finish for a decade – but following a winter of a change that saw Team Principal Fred Vasseur depart for Ferrari and Andreas Seidl come in as CEO, they've struggled for form so far 2023. So, let's take a look at their half term report…

Best Finish

Valtteri Bottas – 8th in Bahrain

Valtteri Bottas’ eighth place at the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix is still Alfa Romeo’s best result of the season. The Finn produced one of those quiet yet efficient performances that we have become accustomed to from him to finish in the top 10.

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Bottas qualified 12th, but a strong start and epic first stint saw him make up places in the early stages, before overcutting the cars ahead, and finding himself at one stage in sixth. He wound up losing places to the faster cars, but came home in eighth.

At this stage of the season, those four points account for nearly half of Alfa Romeo's tally, with the team ninth in the championship with nine points on the board.

Valtteri Bottas (FIN) is driving an Alfa Romeo C43 during the race of the Formula 1 Gulf Air

Valtteri Bottas' P8 finish in Bahrain is still Alfa Romeo's best result this year

Qualifying head-to-head

Head-to-Head: Valtteri Bottas 8 – 4 Zhou Guanyu

The scores might not reflect it, but in his sophomore year, Zhou is a lot closer to his more experienced team mate. On dry weekends, both drivers are extremely well matched, with usually only a tenth or two separating the pair.

Bottas has made it into Q3 on two occasions this year – in Miami where he started 10th and Hungary (P7) – although Zhou does have the team’s highest starting position – fifth in Hungary.

READ MORE: Alunni Bravi sets out main priority for Key when he joins Alfa Romeo technical team next month

Race head-to-head

Valtteri Bottas 8 – 4 Zhou Guanyu

Like qualifying, the drivers are also quite evenly matched in terms of average positions. However, when both have crossed the line on a Sunday, Bottas has been ahead of Zhou more times than not over the course of the first 12 races.

The Finn’s P8 in Bahrain is their best finish of the year, and Bottas made it back into the points in Montreal, where he finished in 10th. Zhou, on the other hand, has had one foray into the top 10, and that came with a ninth-place finish in Barcelona.

BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - MARCH 05: Valtteri Bottas of Finland and Alfa Romeo F1 and Zhou Guanyu of China

Bottas holds the advantage in qualifying and in the race over Zhou although the pair are closer in pace

Best moment

In a year that has not yielded the success they would have hoped for, their Saturday in Budapest showed signs that Alfa Romeo were beginning to regain their form they showed in the early stages of the 2022 season.

After showing a good turn of pace all weekend, Zhou qualified in fifth place – his career best grid slot – with Bottas set to line up right behind him on the grid in seventh. Both drivers also briefly topped the timesheets with competitive times – as Zhou even set the fastest time of Q1.

READ MORE: Our writers look back on 2023 so far and predict what's to come in the second half of the season

Worst moment

The result on Sunday in Budapest did not go their way, as both drivers finished outside the points despite their promising grid slots, but the Azerbaijan weekend was perhaps an even tougher one for Alfa Romeo. Zhou retired with mechanical issues, while Bottas ended the day last of the remaining runners in 18th.

Even the day before on Sprint Saturday, both drivers failed at the first hurdle in SQ1, and while Zhou made it up to 12th from 16th in the 100KM dash, Bottas could only cross the line in P16 after starting 17th.

MONTE-CARLO, MONACO - MAY 28: Valtteri Bottas of Finland driving the (77) Alfa Romeo F1 C43 Ferrari

Alfa Romeo will be looking to score some more points and finish seventh in the championship

Going forward

The goal for the final 10 races of the campaign will be to try and recapture some of the form they showed in the early stages of the 2022 season, at the beginning of the new ground effect technical regulations.

And although they've struggled for top 10 finishes so far this year, they are only two points behind Williams and Haas in the championship, so could easily leapfrog them to take P7 with just a handful of decent results.

But perhaps more important is the work going on behind the scenes at the factory in Hinwil. The team will revert to the Sauber name for next season as Alfa Romeo depart, and Seidl's job is to prepare the outfit to become the full works Audi team for 2026.

On the technical side, former McLaren man James Key joins in September with a clear mandate to build up that part of the operation, while also trying to improve results on track as quickly as possible.

READ MORE: Alunni Bravi sets out main priority for Key when he joins Alfa Romeo technical team next month

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