Poor luck limiting Zhou’s points-scoring in his F1 debut so far

2022 F1 team mate battles: Zhou vs Bottas

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While the raw numbers show a wide gap between Zhou Guanyu – the only rookie on the grid this year – and team mate Valtteri Bottas, this is far from the whole story.

While Zhou wasn’t able to match the one-lap pace of his considerably more experienced team mate at first, he’s shown improvements on Saturdays and his race day performances have been solid. Unfortunately, it’s his car which has proved the weak link.

Zhou’s C42 let him down in Miami, Catalunya, Baku and Paul Ricard, giving him the worst retirement rate due to technical failures of all 20 drivers.

His only other retirement came at Silverstone, in a spectacular and terrifying crash for which he was completely blameless. It was also unfortunately-timed, as it came after he achieved his best starting position to date and in the third consecutive race in which he out-qualified Bottas. He hasn’t been able to recapture that form since his shunt.

Zhou vs Bottas season summary


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Zhou’s best qualifying performance didn’t end well

It hardly seems fair that having grabbed a point on his debut in Bahrain, and come within one place of scoring in the next two races, Zhou has only added to his tally once since, with eighth place in the Canadian Grand Prix. Moreover, as his performances have improved, Alfa Romeo have declined in competitiveness compared to the rest of the field. Bottas was a consistent points-scorer in the opening rounds, but even he has taken points only once in the past six races.

The team brought some upgrades to the last round in Hungary, but only had enough for Bottas. He beat Zhou to the final place in Q3 by a tenth of a second, and afterwards predicted his team mate would have also reached the top 10 if he’d had the upgrade too.

Alfa Romeo’s decision to hire Zhou last year over the likes of Formula 2 champion Oscar Piastri prompted many critical comments. But those who think his 17th place in the championship justifies that scepticism need to take a closer look at his form before jumping to conclusions. For the only first-year driver in the field up against a 10-time grand prix winner, Zhou has given a decent account of himself.

Zhou vs Bottas race-by-race

Zhou vs Bottas qualifying performance

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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9 comments on “Poor luck limiting Zhou’s points-scoring in his F1 debut so far”

  1. Zhou may have been unlucky with unreliability a few times & unable to match Bottas in QLF trim.
    However, he’s fared decently overall, better than Tsunoda last season as a comparison example.
    The top image would be a good choice for the next Caption Competition post.

    1. so Yuki who beats gasly in quali multiple times is worse than zhou who is being destroyed by bottas and finishing towards the back? you get 1000 social credit points…

      Yuki is far better than mediocre zhou who is only in f1 due to the ccp paying for his seat to be a nation branding exercise.

  2. Like Zhou. He’s been quiet this season, but he has showed more discipline surprisingly than Tsunoda. Give the team your trust by not crashing the car is the first rule in F1. Also, he is up against Bottas who has been the teammate of an all time great driver for the last 5 seasons and can be considered a match for Hamilton in qualifying. As long as he does not crash the car like Tsunoda has been doing, he will be fine.

  3. Seems very generous on Zhou but time will tell.

    1. In a time where there is very little testing for rookies, you have to admit he has got up to speed quicker in half a season than last year’s rookies Tsunoda and Schumacher. With natural improvement over time he can become a top 5 driver

      1. Tsunoda shouldn’t have got a second year and is only there because of Honda. I will agree that given the reliability issues this year he suffered, he should receive some leniency in comparison but his absence from those races doesn’t mean he’d have scored comparably with Bottas as he was often a long way off. Some of his accidents are also a direct consequence of qualifying poorly.

        The flip to the lack of testing argument is that they have far more advanced simulators now and this allows them to get a lot of very useful experience quickly. I’ll give him till the end of the year before I judge his performance but he really needs like 3 races before the end of the year where he comprehensively beats Bottas on merit. Nothing shown so far is any indication he’s got the ability to be one of the top 5 drivers on the grid.

  4. Zhou has done better than many probably suspected. Bottas after all is no slouch. Even if he was never a match for Hamilton over a full season, he still had his weekends where he could and did beat him on pace. And to Zhou’s credit, he’s also been far less expensive for his team than Tsunoda and Schumacher have been.

    On the other hand, Zhou hasn’t done anything particularly noteworthy either. He’ll probably be able to stick around on merit (and a bit of cash) for a while, but based on his performances so far there’s probably not going to be a top team that has him on their short list. That’s fair enough: there are plenty of drivers like that in F1.

    Should be interesting to see the public’s reaction to Zhou when F1 goes back to racing in the PRC.

  5. All the Media are propping up Zhou and making excuses for him. But its still wrong to Accept money from that Regime. Especially when you look more then 5 seconds at all the evil things that country does…..

    They can only say: China is a big market… a lot of money to be made there… bla bla bla

    While our fallen countrymen died in WW2 protecting our freedom… Only for us to look away because of Money?…..

    1. What you said is exactly discrimination. Zhou is an individual and you dont have proof that he is related to any of the evil things you accused. Try bullying Hamilton by saying balck crime rate is higher than average and he should not race in F1.

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