'Messy' Saudi Arabian Grand Prix cost me consecutive points, says Zhou


Zhou Guanyu missed out on consecutive points finishes after a tough Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, the rookie having faced an issue off the starting line before being hit with two penalties – which undid what he called a “strong” Alfa Romeo package in Jeddah.

The Chinese driver started 12th for the Saudi Arabian race but was soon given a five-second stop-and-go penalty for passing Alex Albon off track – and then another drive-through penalty for not serving his first one correctly. As a result, he finished 11th, one spot behind Lewis Hamilton.

“From my race, it was messy,” admitted Zhou. “I think the car was fast enough to fight for the points but a bit of [misfortune] with the start and with the drive-through penalty, that really forced us to get to a position where we could not fight for the points anymore.”

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Zhou Guanyu frustrated after penalties negate good race pace

Zhou also encountered the same issue that cropped up in Bahrain, where anti-stall kicked in at the start – this time as he went wheel-to-wheel with Daniel Ricciardo at the opening chicane – and sent him down to P18 after the opening lap in Saudi Arabia.

“It’s not ideal, definitely from the cockpit, because we had the same issue in Bahrain – so we have to investigate what happened, because we must make sure it is not happening… To keep having the same issue on Lap 1 going into last [place], it’s not ideal.

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“But, a positive of the race – the race pace was very strong again, so from my side I think the car was fast enough to fight for the points.

“I had made a good recovery from P18 and we were looking strong to bring home some points again, but the drive-through put us far at the back and that was it. Let's hope for a smoother race in Australia; the car feels good, so we can be competitive again.”

JEDDAH, SAUDI ARABIA - MARCH 27: Valtteri Bottas of Finland driving the (77) Alfa Romeo F1 C42

Alfa Romeo left Jeddah without points as Valtteri Bottas retired with an engine issue

Team Principal Frederic Vasseur said Zhou would have surely scored points if not for the second penalty he received.

“It’s a disappointing end to an evening in which we showed so much pace. Zhou, who was recovering from the bottom after his car went into anti-stall after a contact with Ricciardo in Turn 2, would have been in the top 10 if not for the drive-through penalty he was given.

“It hurts, but this is racing, sometimes, and all we have to do is pull ourselves up and make sure we keep delivering tonight’s speed at the next races.”

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