Valtteri Bottas and Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake returned for the 2023 FIA Formula 1 World Championship this weekend at the Bahrain International Circuit, as the Finn targeted a strong start to the campaign.
Round One saw the Bahrain Grand Prix and it was a fairly successful weekend for Bottas and the Hinwil-based team. Despite not making Qualifying Three, the Finnish driver had a fairly successful qualifying starting in twelfth on the grid, and points in the race were certainly an achievable outcome.
A really good opening few laps saw Bottas move up to eighth, and despite having a quiet race the ex-Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team driver was able to hold his position and bring home valuable points to move Alfa Romeo up to fifth in the Constructors’ Championship.
“I am really pleased with our race tonight: four points are a good reward for the team and show that all the work everyone back at base did during the winter is paying off. We showed we have a good race car and that we can fight with all the teams around us.
“It was a solid start to our season, but the work is not finished, of course: we have to keep improving, keep pushing – I know everyone in Hinwil is working to bring upgrades to our car. My race was good, a bit quiet at times: the start was really important, making those places on the opening lap was crucial as the cars around us are very well matched and overtaking is not easy.
“We went out aggressively, both on track and with our strategy, and it was definitely the right thing to do. We also had to be smart and pick our battles, making sure we kept some of our tyres for when we needed them: it turned out to be important at the end, when it got a bit close with Gasly, but in the end we brought it home.
“It was also important for Zhou to get the fastest lap right at the end to steal the point from our competition – he did a good job and it shows how well we work as a team. P8 was the most we could get tonight and there’s nothing more we could have done.”
“We’re going in the right direction” – Zhou Guanyu
Unlike his team-mate, Zhou Guanyu was unable to score points at the Bahrain International Circuit, and lacked a lot of pace throughout the race.
Despite starting just one place behind Bottas, Zhou had a poor start meaning he lost multiple positions and fell behind slower cars in a DRS train. Zhou, however, did play a crucial part in taking points away from one of Alfa Romeo’s competitors, by pitting with a lap to go to put in the fastest lap, to take a point away from Pierre Gasly and the BWT Alpine F1 Team.
Zhou will be hoping for a better individual performance next time at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, with the midfield battle looking to be a very competitive one in 2023.
“It’s obviously good to see Valtteri scoring points for the team in the season opener, it’s a good starting place for all of us, and I was glad to give my contribution by setting the fastest lap in the closing stages.
“The car felt better than in qualifying, which shows we’re going in the right direction: we must keep finding these margins to keep improving ahead of the next few races and I know everyone trackside and in Switzerland is working to do it.
‘As for tonight’s race, I suffered a bit of wheelspin in the opening lap, losing a few places and ending stuck in a DRS train for most of the race. The VSC came out at the wrong time and there wasn’t much we could do to improve our position at that stage.
‘Still, there are positives we can get out of this race, as a team, as we head to Saudi Arabia with the knowledge we can fight for the points in every race.”