Formula 1

Valtteri Bottas: “It feels we’re not far off where we want to be, which is really positive”

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Credit: Xavi Bonilla / DPPI

Valtteri Bottas failed to complete a timed lap during the first free practice session in Bahrain on Friday due to a mechanical issue that left him in the pit lane, but the Finn felt he recovered well in the evening session as he ended an encouraging sixth fastest overall.

An engine concern, possibly a misfire, restricted him to just two installation laps during the first session, but he completed thirty laps under the floodlights at the Bahrain International Circuit, with his best time just over a second off the best time of the day set by Max Verstappen.

Bottas feels Alfa Romeo F1 Team ORLEN team have a lot of potential with its C42-Ferrari, and being so high up the running order despite a lack of running time shows the team are on the right track with the car.

“We recovered strongly from FP1, ending the day with an important session and plenty of laps, so I can say we saved the day,” said Bottas.  “There’s still lots to improve, like for everyone else so early in the season, but you can definitely tell the potential is there: in the running we did in the evening session, the car felt really nice, especially on high fuel.

“It feels we’re not far off where we want to be, which is really positive. It will be interesting to see how it will be tomorrow, in qualifying, when everyone puts out everything they’ve got: now, however, it’s time to look at the data we collected together with Zhou and the team and learn from it.”

“There’s still something to explore before qualifying” – Zhou Guanyu

Team-mate Zhou Guanyu, the first Chinese driver to race in Formula 1, was also encouraged by his opening practice day in Bahrain on Friday, with eleventh place going his way in the afternoon session.

Zhou may have dropped to fifteenth under the floodlights, but it was a day of learning for him as he adapted to life in Formula 1.  The twenty-two-year-old is the only rookie on the grid and he is still in the infancy of his career at the highest level of single seater motorsport, and he has a lot of learning to do as he works out how to attack a full race weekend for the first time.

“It was a good day to start the season, all went very smoothly and, at least on my side, according to our programme,” said Zhou.  “The car felt comfortable, although there are, of course, still a few things we need to improve.

“All feels still quite new to me and there’s still something to explore before qualifying tomorrow. FP1 was quite tricky as the track conditions were challenging, but already in FP2 the evolution made it easier. What really mattered, however, was doing all we had on our plan for the day.

“It’s a promising start for the weekend and I am looking forward to tomorrow.”

China’s first Formula 1 race driver, Zhou Guanyu, had a positive opening day in Bahrain – Credit: DPPI
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Thirty-something motorsport fanatic, covering Formula 1, Formula Renault 2.0 and Formula 3. Feel free to give him a follow on Twitter at @Paul11MSport.
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