Sunday, May 26, 2024

Brake System Issue out of Zhou’s Control Initiated Poor Start in Hungary – Xevi Pujolar

Xevi Pujolar has confirmed that the issue that affected Zhou Guanyu’s start at the Hungarian Grand Prix was not the Chinese driver’s fault, but they are still investigating the cause of why he could not get off the line.

Zhou had lined up a career high fifth on the grid at the Hungaroring and was hoping to secure what would have been a third top ten finish of the 2023 FIA Formula 1 World Championship season, but it was not to be as he did not get away from the line as soon as the lights went out.

Pujolar, the Head of Trackside Engineering at Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake, says a problem with the brake system appeared to have triggered a failsafe on the engine, which meant that Zhou was unable to get off the line. 

With team-mate Valtteri Bottas forced to take avoiding action as a result of Zhou’s starting issue, it meant that fifth and seventh on the grid was only converted to twelfth and sixteenth at the chequered flag, something the team were not happy with.

“We are still investigating what went wrong there,” Pujolar is quoted as saying by WTF1.com.  “It looks like something with the brake system strategy that caused a failsafe on the engine side.

“We’re trying to understand how that would be triggered at that point. That means that we lost the start, the pull-away with Zhou, but also it had an effect on Valtteri [Bottas], who was just behind and lost three positions there and lost the rhythm and another three positions during lap one.

“The conclusion is at the end of lap one, we are P12 and P16, all the work we did yesterday pretty much gone and then trying to recover from there.”

“We are of course disappointed” – Alessandro Alunni Bravi

Alessandro Alunni Bravi, the Team Representative at Alfa Romeo, was naturally disappointed that they were not able to convert an excellent Qualifying display into points.

With both cars starting inside the top ten, hopes had been high that they could have scored points and moved themselves up to seventh place in the Constructors’ Championship, but Zhou’s issues at the start and the way the soft tyre runners came through the pack quickly extinguished their hopes.

Zhou was also handed a five-second time penalty for causing the first lap collision that eliminated both BWT Alpine F1 Team drivers, with the Chinese driver initially clipping the back of Daniel Ricciardo’s Scuderia AlphaTauri car as he left his braking too late into turn one.

“After yesterday’s strong performance in qualifying, we are of course disappointed not to convert good starting positions with both cars into a double-points finish; occasions like this can’t be missed, so we will need to properly go through what went wrong today,” said Alunni Bravi.

“Zhou’s car suffered an issue with the brake system strategy during the starting procedure, and that ended up jeopardising not just his race, but both of our drivers’. Zhou lost eleven positions right before the first corner, and subsequently hit Ricciardo while braking, for which he received a five-seconds penalty that was executed during his first pit stop.

“Valtteri had to avoid Zhou at the start, thus losing important positions he didn’t manage to recover. All of this resulted in both cars being outside the top ten from the start: we tried to recover with an aggressive strategy, changing earlier from Medium to Hard tyres, and attempting to undercut those in front of us, but eventually didn’t have enough pace to climb back into the top ten.

“Today’s result is upsetting for the team, but there is at least one major positive from the weekend: our overall performance improved from the previous races, and we must carry it with us as we head to Spa next week, for the final race before the summer break.”

Valtteri Bottas started seventh but could only finish twelfth in Hungary – Credit: Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake
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