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F1 | Saudi Arabian GP | Alfa Romeo praise Bottas for the leadership and "positive mood" he's brought to the team, admit reliability needs improving

Following a disappointing end to Sunday's Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, Head of Trackside Engineering at Alfa Romeo, Xevi Pujolar, spoke highly of the team spirit following the arrival of Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu for 2022.

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F1 | Saudi Arabian GP | Alfa Romeo praise Bottas for the leadership and "positive mood" he's brought to the team, admit reliability needs improving
Fuente imagen: Alfa Romeo Racing

It was a frustrating Saudi Arabian Grand Prix for Valtteri Bottas and Alfa Romeo as they came away with no points on Sunday.

After bagging a brilliant P6 in Bahrain and making Q3 for a second straight weekend at Jeddah, the 32-year-old Finn looked set for more points last Sunday until a reliability problem forced him out in the closing stages of the event.

“It was a good race until we saw the issue with the engine temperature, it started to go up,” he said.

“It was initially a small rise in the engine temperature but that it was rapid and even with lift and coast and finding clean air it was going up to the point that the engine was at risk of failing.

“We retired the car to not lose the engine, that was the only option.”

Speaking after the race with MotorLAT and other selected media, Xevi Pujolar said the team couldn’t diagnose the exact cause until they got back to base.

“With Valtteri, we still don’t know what went wrong. We could see the temperatures going up and we tried to just go in free air, tried to lift off and [the temperatures were] still climbing so we had to retire the car.

“At the moment with all the checks we have done, we still haven’t found the issue. Something on the cooling side… we don’t know yet. We need to investigate when we go back.”

It is a completely new line-up for Alfa this year after the retirement of Kimi Räikkönen and the departure of Antonio Giovinazzi at the end of 2021.

Pujolar believes the good relationship the drivers have is boosting the team, but is aware that reliability of the car needs improving.

“I think that mostly the mood is really good. With Valtteri but also with Zhou,” Pujolar said.

“Having both of them working together, they boost the engineers and boost the mechanics. And then when everyone sees also the performance on track, I think that it is giving us a big boost. I think it’s really good.

“First, we need to solve the reliability issues, mistakes here and there, but the potential is very good.

“And we want to consolidate, same way as we did in Bahrain. We need to bounce back strong in Melbourne.”

Following five seasons at Mercedes where he helped the team win five consecutive Constructors’ Championships, Bottas seems to be relishing the team leader role at Alfa Romeo.

Pujolar was full of praise for how the Finn is conducting himself off the track and the way he’s bringing the team with him.

“I think his performance is impressive. But on top of that, what is helping on top of the performance is the positive mood he’s giving to the team and to the other driver,” the Spaniard said.

“He is fast and he is bringing the team with him. And I think that’s the key. It’s not only about going fast on track, but also to make sure that the team is following you: here at the track, at the factory and the other driver.

“I think that’s the biggest change I’ve seen.”

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