Guanyu Zhou was pleased to get his first proper taste of Alfa Romeo F1 Team ORLEN’s C42 on Thursday, with the Chinese driver completing seventy-one laps of the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.
With Alfa Romeo giving test driver Robert Kubica the morning session on Wednesday, Thursday afternoon was the first time that Zhou was able to turn laps in pre-season testing, and he made the most of his track time to set the tenth best time of the day.
It was the first true running of the car after a number of mechanical issues affected the first day and a half of running, but Zhou hopes they have turned the corner and can now truly focus on improving the car across the remaining four days of testing in Spain and Bahrain.
“It was nice to get to drive this new generation of cars: it definitely feels different from what I drove in the past,” said Zhou. “I took my time at the beginning of the session, trying not to push too hard but just getting used to the car and the way it felt: towards the end, I tried a few better runs.
“There is a little bit of bouncing compared to last year’s car, for sure, but I’m sure everything is going to get better as the team understands the car more. We are working in the right direction.
“All in all, I am happy with my day and with getting a decent number of laps; we were able to bring home a lot of data for our engineers to analyse, which is very good ahead of tomorrow. I’m looking forward to being in the car again in the morning.”
“I wasn’t able to run as much as I would have wanted this morning” – Valtteri Bottas
Team-mate Valtteri Bottas was able to take some positives away from his day despite completing only twenty-one laps during the morning session as more reliability issues hit.
The Finn, who moved to Alfa Romeo after being replaced by George Russell in the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team line-up, says it was pleasing that Zhou was able to get a lot of laps under his belt in the afternoon, which bodes well for him when he takes over the car for the afternoon session on Friday.
“The team ended the day with a good number of laps, and this has to be the main takeaway from today,” said Bottas. “We were able to do some consistent running in the afternoon, which bodes well for when I’ll be back in the cockpit tomorrow.
“I wasn’t able to run as much as I would have wanted this morning, but at least we know we addressed the issue and we can focus on making the most of the final day here in Barcelona.
“There’s still a good way to go before we go racing, and we now have some data to help the team move towards the right window in terms of set-up.”