Alfa Romeo working on fix for Bottas and Zhou’s “very poor” starts

2022 F1 Season

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Alfa Romeo is looking into how it can improve its performance at the start of races, after Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu lost more places than any other drivers on lap one in Bahrain.

Bottas fell from sixth to 14th at the start while Guanyu slipped from 15th to 19th.

“We’re still facing some issues with the start with this new car,” admitted trackside engineering director Xevi Pujolar after the race. “It’s something that we thought we made some progress, but still we are having a problem on this area.”

“Both cars experienced a very poor start,” he explained. “Then not only the start, but also trying to get grip and avoiding incidents during lap one.

“So that one definitely is an area that we’ll have to take some actions and try to understand a bit more, see how we can solve it or try to mitigate as much as possible for the next week because we don’t have so many days.” The next round of the championship takes place at Jeddah Corniche Circuit this weekend.

Pujolar said his team is not alone in encountering the problem. “It’s something that we see that we’re not the only ones who are experiencing these kind of issues. But [in Bahrain], for us, it was worse.”

The team scored nine points in the first race of the season, just four less than it managed over the whole of 2021. While several of their rivals have pointed to the gains made by power unit supplier Ferrari, Pujolar believes the engine manufacturers are at a similar level this year.

“It is not only about the power but for sure now we are in a position that we can fight with everyone,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s Alpine, [Red Bull] or Mercedes engines, we can be there and that’s helping a lot in terms of performance.”

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Author information

Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a motorsport and automotive journalist with a particular interest in hybrid systems, electrification, batteries and new fuel technologies....

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16 comments on “Alfa Romeo working on fix for Bottas and Zhou’s “very poor” starts”

  1. Dear RaceFan,

    Please don’t call him “Guanyu” anymore, it is so awkward to read. He is a Chinese and his family name is “Zhou” instead of “Guanyu”. Thanks.

    Or you may change to subject to ‘ Alfa Romeo working on fix for Valtteri and Guanyu’s “very poor” starts ‘

    1. And yet during the race Crofty was saying that he wanted to be called Zhou Guanyo (pronounced Joe) So I don’t understand your irritation as I am sure that Joe knows what his name is.

      1. @ patrick

        Chinese is my first language so I guess I also know how Zhou’s name is called , and written.

        The subject in this article sounds as ‘imbalance’ as “Both George and Hamilton believes Mercedes could win again”. I guess that would not be a good writing, right ?

        1. @sb12 Isn’t the case in china and some other asian countries that parents tend to give their child “western” name. Like Chan Kong-sang is mostly known as Jackie Chan

          1. So I don’t know what is Zhou’s western name or if he even has it.

          2. Yes it is more common at the places like Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong (etc) where were once ruled by British. Children will have chance to learn English in their schools and the English (the language, not nationality) teachers usually ask the children to have western names , in order to have a smoother run during the classes.

            On the other hand Zhou comes for mainland China / PRC , where is less common to have western name and I don’t notice Zhou has one.

      2. Zhou Guanyo is the Chinese ordering. Family name first, given name second. This is not unique to China, but evidently Tsunoda Yuki is fine with using the European style.

  2. Alfa Romeo is the best-looking car to my taste.

    1. Coventry Climax
      24th March 2022, 10:54

      To me, that’s the Williams; just love that dark blue. But the Alfa isn’t too bad either.
      Too bad colorscheme and performance do not have a direct relationship, eh? ;-)

    2. Ferrari, Alfa next, then Aston

  3. Coventry Climax
    24th March 2022, 10:50

    Bit of a stale joke possibly, but Bottas hasn’t proven himself as a particulary good starter over the years with Mercedes, and Guanyu is new to the scene. So the easiest way to improve would be to get drivers that are good at it?

    1. While it has become “a common knowledge” that Bottas is a poor starter (and statistics somewhat confirm that), I think you are overestimating his bad starts quite a bit. According to the RaceFans, his average position change on lap one in 2021 was -1.14 while Hamilton had +0.23. And yes, there was also the Hungarian GP incident, which most likely isn’t included in this stat, but nevertheless his starts typically are nowhere near as bad as the one in Bahrain. The fact that Bottas lost 8 positions and Zhou lost 4 positions suggests that the car at the moment is indeed a poor starter.

  4. What I struggle to understand is.. why can a car be this bad at the start?

    Don’t they all run roughly similar setups? Are their rear springs so hard to bounce of the line? Potentially to combat porpoising?

    I’d love to know the technical reason for their atrocious start, especially since their engine is amongst the best, tyres are the same for everyone, shouldn’t be that much difference?

    1. My guess is clutch setup + a very wrong estimation of the optimum rpms to keep the engine. Looking at his onboard, he almost stalls the car:

      But that would only explain the 4 positions he lost at the start itself; the rest are arguably down to a bit of bad luck (Schumacher spun right in front of him) and his not so good racecraft.

  5. I wonder if they could have fought Mercedes without that bungled start.

  6. Looks like Ferrari shed some of it’s weight to Sauber…

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