The Alfa Romeo cars of Zhou Guanyu and Valtteri Bottas finished in 10th and 14th place today, in a Sprint Race that saw Bottas battling to get into the top eight, and Zhou Guanyu putting in some epic laps to finish six places ahead of where he started.
Zhou started the race from the pit lane after his engine cut out on the formation lap, showing no sign of any repercussions from his terrifying accident last week at Silverstone. After the Sprint today he stated:
“The Sprint Race I finished P14, good position for tomorrow. A bit frustrating because we had an issue, we had to start from the pit lane but amazing recovery. Really nice to be back in the car and fighting with all the midfield guys. Good pace, looking forward to tomorrow.”
Qualifying in 13th place Bottas took advantage after lights out as Pierre Gasley, Alex Albon and Lewis Hamilton all had incidents, and Fernando Alonso did not start. Bottas said after the race:
“So tenth place from thirteenth in the Sprint means no points because it’s top eight for points in the Sprint, which was the target. We tried, and it was a bit tricky because we had a small issue with the turbo of the engine, but tomorrow is another day and it’s going to be another challenging one, but I’m ready for it and the pace of the car is good.”
The Finnish driver was overtaken by Hamilton on Lap 7 and dropped down to P10, later joining the back of the Mick Schumacher and Hamilton battle towards the end of the race, for the final points position.
“Today was really like, try to get into the top eight or nothing. We tried. It was getting a bit closer towards the end with the Haas cars but I ran out of laps, so I felt that our pace was better to others the longer the race went.
“He [Hamilton] seemed to be quite fast especially on the straight. At least compared to us but initially he was struggling a little bit with the battery, but once he managed to charge his battery he came through really easily. But then I was surprised he got stuck behind the Haas cars.”
Considering the point of there being no pit stop strategy in the shorter Sprint format, Bottas responded to the question of if a Sprint Race works at tracks like the Red Bull Ring.
“I still think it works, it’s worth having a bit of a race, the only problem is there are no DRS trains, but once there’s one car alone, then it makes it a bit more exciting.
“For us [Alfa Romeo], it definitely seems like the longer the race goes the better it is for our car; we were pretty good on the tyres. We initially struggled a bit to keep up with the cars ahead, but it was vice versa at the end. I’m definitely looking forward to the longer race tomorrow. I don’t know if there was much happening in the race but from my side not a huge amount.”
On the subject of Sprint Races and if drivers should have any input of the choice of circuits, Bottas told the media:
“Definitely, you need to choose the tracks carefully. It’s still worth having a Sprint here but I think there could be better places, like Zandvoort, Silverstone. Let’s see what they come up with. But, Red Bull Ring wouldn’t be my first choice.”
The Alfa Romeo team had a choice of circuits to take the grid penalty. Bottas explained why they chose to take it this weekend:
“We decided here, because of the Sprint Race if we could get points, but obviously it didn’t work out. Let’s hope for the best tomorrow.
“I think our long-run pace is definitely within the Top 10 tomorrow, and it seemed faster than Haas. That’s encouraging, even though I’m starting from the back is a different story but at least it gives us hope.”
If Bottas can get his car up into the top ten tomorrow, it will be a heroic performance from the Finn.