Thursday, April 18, 2024

Zhou Guanyu: “I knew I had to keep the pressure on the others to bring home a result”

Zhou Guanyu equalled his best finish of the 2023 FIA Formula 1 World Championship season on Sunday when he took ninth place in the Spanish Grand Prix in what he felt was one of his more complete weekends of the year so far.

The Chinese driver had a strong afternoon at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya and was a top ten contender all day long, and although he finished on the road in tenth, a time penalty for Scuderia AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda for forcing the Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake driver off the road at turn one as the two battled it out handed him ninth.

Zhou felt his performances on both Saturday and Sunday were amongst his best of his Formula 1 career to date, with good qualifying being followed by a well-executed and well-managed race.

“I really enjoyed today, it was a well-executed race from my side: I think these have been some of the best two days for me in Formula 1, in terms of performance,” said Zhou.  “I had a good first lap, and that was crucial to give us the opportunity to get something out of this race: our pace was strong, although there were times in which we had to manage our tyres wisely.

“I knew I had to keep the pressure on the others to bring home a result and, when the opportunity was there, I tried to force them to make a mistake.

“At the end, I knew I had the pace to take Yuki [Tsunoda]: I had DRS, I was half a car ahead going into the corner, but I wasn’t given any space and didn’t have any other choice than to take the escape route to avoid contact.

“In the end, things worked out well and we were able to bring home two points, which was a good result.” 

“I wasn’t able to put up a fight with anybody” – Valtteri Bottas

Team-mate Valtteri Bottas did not have the same kind of performance, and the Finn ended the race down in nineteenth, ahead only of Williams Racing’s Logan Sargeant.

Bottas revealed that he went through the race with damage to the floor of his car that cost him valuable downforce and performance, with the ten-time race winner admitting he did not have the pace to fight with those in front of him.

“First of all, congratulations to Zhou and the team for getting points; he showed good pace, and that’s encouraging for the next races, as proof of the hard work put in by the team back home in Hinwil and here at the track,” said Bottas.

“From my side, we found damage to the floor, probably from some debris picked up at the start of the race, and that cost us quite a big chunk of performance: as a result, I just lacked pace altogether today, I wasn’t able to put up a fight with anybody and it was quite a long race for me.”

Bottas says it is important to put this race behind them quickly and focus on the positives heading into the Canadian Grand Prix later this month, a race that in 2022 was one of Alfa Romeo’s best of the season.

“I know we can put this race behind us and quickly come back on the right track before heading to Montreal in two weeks,” Bottas added.  “The circuit will be once again completely different, and hopefully it’ll suit our car.

“We had a decent race in Montreal last year, scoring a very good result for the team: hopefully, we’ll be able to replicate that, and keep this streak running.” 

Valtteri Bottas raced with a damaged floor in Barcelona and ended nineteenth – Credit: Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake