Valtteri Bottas signing for Alfa Romeo F1 Team ORLEN, continues to look like the best driver transfer for this season, after the Finnish driver crossed the line in an impressive fifth-place at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. Team-mate Guanyu Zhou finished a disappointing fifteenth at the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari Circuit.
Bottas made an electric start and was challenging the top-five by the first corner, he did brilliantly though to avoid an early retirement after Carlos Sainz Jr and Daniel Ricciardo collided directly ahead of him at Tamburello. The nose of Bottas’ C42 was clearly scuffed, however the Finnish driver soldiered on. He was unfortunate however to suffer an incredibly slow pit-stop whilst changing from Intermediate, to Medium tyres.
This dropped Bottas back a few places, although it didn’t take him long to make his way back up to sixth. Sixth became fifth when Charles Leclerc span up ahead late on, it was actually almost fourth for Bottas who closed George Russell down rapidly late-on but to no avail.
Considering his race could’ve ended within the first twenty-seconds, fifth was a stellar job by Bottas who was pleased to see the upgrades the team brought to the weekend working well.
“It was a fun race for me today! It’s always good to get points, we had a strong race in a car that felt really good. I am happy with how everything went, even though we lost a bit of time in the pit-stop, but we bring home ten points today so we’ll take it. I had a bit of a scare at the beginning of the race, when I couldn’t avoid Ricciardo when he tangled with Sainz, but luckily we didn’t have any damage.
“The car had good pace, especially once we went on the mediums, and only at the very end, when I caught George [Russell] I had some graining on my rear right that cost me performance. The team is working really well, there’s a good atmosphere and it’s nice to see the upgrades we brought to the track worked. There’s still a lot of work to do and many races ahead of us, so we can still improve and have some fun weekends.”
“It was quite difficult to pass” – Guanyu Zhou
Guanyu Zhou experienced an uneventful race at Imola, the Chinese driver was untroubled almost the entire race after overtaking Nicholas Latifi.
A points finish never looked on the cards for the rookie, who started the race from the pit-lane after changes to his car were illegally made following his Sprint race crash. Nevertheless it was a weekend full of learning for Zhou, who believes that there is plenty he can take away from his first Sprint weekend in Formula 1.
“Not the result I wanted today, but there are still a lot of positives from me to take out of this weekend: not just the performance I showed over the three days, but also how I got up to speed quickly in my first Sprint race. The weekend started better than expected and I had a good qualifying, but yesterday really compromised our final result.
“It was always going to be hard to make it into the top ten from the pit lane, especially as today it was quite difficult to pass, and once I got past the Williams, the gap to the cars ahead was too big. The rest of my race was quite uneventful, but I can still look at the things I learned in difficult conditions and make sure I get back stronger in the next races.”