Bottas is team’s top scorer but Zhou makes case for a second season

2022 F1 team mate battles: Bottas vs Zhou

Posted on

| Written by

Until this season it had been six years since Valtteri Bottas last beat his team mate over the course of the season. That was when he comfortably saw off Felipe Massa at Williams, before heading to Mercedes where he went up against no other team mate than Lewis Hamilton.

It was only to be expected that a driver of Bottas’ experience, with 10 grand prix victories to his name, would show rookie team mate Zhou Guanyu the way. But Zhou can head into his second season at Alfa Romeo with his head held high. The score-line may reflect it poorly, but he showed up very well against his experienced team mate.

Alfa Romeo began 2022 in great shape. Bottas put his car on the third row of the grid in Bahrain, but Zhou lagged well behind him. The newcomer quickly brought that gap down, and though it spiked over the half-second mark occasionally, that tended to be at unfamiliar tracks, and as the season went on he increasingly out-qualified his team mate.

Indeed, having started behind Bottas at the first seven races, Zhou came out ahead at the next three, which helped him to a season-best of eighth at the Canadian Grand Prix. Better things were in the offing at the next round where Zhou qualified ninth – his best of the year – and immediately passed George Russell as the race began.

Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo, Imola, 2022
Bottas piled up the points early in the year, taking sixth at Imola
But the Mercedes driver was knocked into the side of the Alfa Romeo seconds later, flipping Zhou onto his roll hoop and sending him on a wild ride which ended with his C42 alarmingly upside down between a barrier and a debris fence. Happily he was unhurt.

By this stage in the season Alfa Romeo’s rivals were beginning to overhaul them. Having scored points in seven of the first nine races, Bottas failed to add to his tally over the next 10 rounds. Zhou’s performances were closer to his team mate’s levels but the potential for rewards weren’t as great as they had been earlier in the season, when unreliability also hindered his efforts to collect points.

Alfa Romeo brought a useful update at the end of the season which Bottas used to add points in Mexico and Brazil. He ended the season with a wide margin over Zhou in the drivers championship and almost single-handedly ensured Alfa Romeo finished sixth in the championship.

But by all other metrics Zhou had given a good account of himself: His qualifying pace improved over the year and the rookie largely avoided causing any incidents. Converting that promise into points finishes must be his goal for next year.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free


Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

Unrepresentative comparisons omitted. Negative value: Bottas was faster; Positive value: Zhou was faster

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2022 F1 season

Browse all 2022 F1 season articles

Author information

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...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

24 comments on “Bottas is team’s top scorer but Zhou makes case for a second season”

  1. Yeah, I think nobody expected too much from Zhou, but he really showed he was a good pick for the team.

    Good to have him on the grid,

    1. Agreed, I had very few expectations for him but he acquitted himself very well.

    2. What made him better than schumacher, avoiding crashes? Cause I’m sure schumacher wouldn’t be as bad looking in the graph.

  2. Chinese pay driver not bringing in as many Chinese sponsors as Sauber had hoped, in a Championship not having raced in China since 2019.

    Yeah, not sure that’s going to tide him over until Audi enters the sport.

  3. “But by all other metrics Zhou had given a good account of himself: His qualifying pace improved over the year and the rookie largely avoided causing any incidents. Converting that promise into points finishes must be his goal for next year.”

    It seems that Zhou’s target for the year is to go from not-very-good to nondescript.

  4. I don’t really understand what is up with the Zhou hype to be honest. He performed worse than Mick Schumacher doesn’t matter what kind of perspective we try to look at it, and for some reason people were satisfied with Zhou’s performance while Mick received heavy criticizm for most of the year + he also lost his seat. Weird.

    1. I agree, he was given far too much slack for the complete whipping he took from Bottas. Hope he has a better 2023.

    2. Exactly, I’m in the same boat, look at the graph here, he got destroyed on every metric, schumacher was much closer to magnussen.

    3. Unless people are giving him a lot of leeway because he’s in the first season, compared to schumacher’s 2nd, in that case I look forward for the comments next year for some comparison, in case he doesn’t perform.

      1. There isn’t much difference between being in your 1st or your 2nd season. 2nd year is still an inexperienced (young) driver. Besides, Schumacher’s car in 2021 was a wheelbarrow and he was most of the time driving alone far ahead of 20th place and far behind 18th place, so I don’t see anything good in that, I would assume that sitting on the pit wall and talking to Toto Wolff would give you more usefull stuff than driving that car.

    4. @JB22 @slowmo @esploratore1
      Regardless of teammate comparisons, he was less error-prone, especially concerning costly errors, & his performance was generally quite consistent throughout the season. His points losses were essentially only caused by unreliability.

      1. I’m not sure being less error prone in any good if you are just slow. At least in Mick’s case we could say that he was trying and as the season progressed he got significantly better. I don’t see much progress in Zhou’s case he is just there, wasting a decent seat because he has money.

        1. @jerejj – I’m afraid I’m with JB22 on this one, easy to be less error prone when you’re just slow. If this had been Stroll against Bottas then we’d be calling for him to be sacked this year, not making excuses for what was clearly a very poor performance. The only metric you have in F1 for your performance is your teammate, if you lose that battle conclusively then it’s tough to defend your performance. Who knows, he may improve dramoatically next year but for this year at least he’s been a huge disappointment to me.

          The only excuse that might hold much weight is Bottas is probably a lot faster driver than many give him credit for, just because his direct comparison for the previous 4 years was Hamilton at his best.

  5. Some of the scumacher comments don’t seem to take note on just how awful he was at the start of the season. Latifi did a better job than him for the first 3rd of the season. The first 7 races, Latifi finished ahead in 4 of them and there is apsolutely no doubt that the Haas at this stage of the season was conciderably better than the Williams. Schumacher meanwhile has one or two decent results but also caused a huge amount of very expensive damage. It was only because of his performance later in the season that I would rate him higher than latifi. No way is he even close to the level of Zhou.

    1. How is Schumacher not on the same level as Zhou? He literally got double the points than Zhou in an inferior car

      1. Zhou had an awful lot of bad luck in the first stage of the season when the car was at it’s best. The Haas was also very strong at this stage of the season and Schumacher was worse than latifi at this stage. He scored in just 2 races over the whole season. Zhou’s performances were far more consistent and the points don’t reflect their seasons.

        1. LMAO stop leaving in your dreams dude. Schumacher literally beat Zhou last year with a worse car and he also beat him in F2. The only reason why Zhou still has a seat is something called money, it’s just weird that he doesn’t receive much criticizm for his lackluster performance.

          1. @esploratore1

            Here are my reasons as to why I don’t think Schumacher has been better than Zhou.

            Zhou missed quite a lot of points early in the season due to numerous DNFs. For certain enough to get him ahead of Schumacher in the standings. Also take note of when he started in the top 10 2 races this year, he didn’t finish either.

            Zhou was solid as I’ve said with no big mistakes and even in qualifying, he out qualified Bottas more often than not in the 2nd half of the season.

            Schumacher only failed to finish once due to a mechanical issue – in Monaco is was his fault. Then in Saudi Arabia it was obviously his own fault for not starting too.

            Zhou has had 5 DNFs and not a single one of them was his fault.

            I also think Haas kicking him out is likely to be related to just how much damage he causes to the car. Last year he was by far the most expensive damage prone driver out there and likely is again this year, and Haas were not good for cash at the time. He continued his trend this year too, even if he did improve later.

            This part is in response to JB22:

            Your only definition of beating (being better than) drivers in your post looks like it is 100% down to points and ignoring their luck.

            I’m also not dreaming as Zhou was only in F1 this year, not “last year”

    2. If anything, schumacher already paid in terms of the points table for his mistakes early on in the season, because that’s when the car was at its best, magnussen also hasn’t been able to score a lot of points later on.

      I remember zhou had pretty much a mechanical problem per race early on, but even so, seems strange to say he did better than schumacher, and unfortunately I’m not expecting validation from the yearly rankings here, given how zhou was spoken favourably about in this article.

  6. 1) How long a break do you give a newbie to adapt to F1?
    Most Mick supporters I see give Mick 1.5 years, meaning only looking at Mick’s 2022 2H, while won’t give Zhou 0.5 year. Is that fair? Look at Tsunoda’s progression after 1 year

    2) Bottas is a better driver than Magnussen. Ask Hamilton.

    3) In 2022 2H, Bottas scored 3 points, Magnussen also 3 points, given Bottas is a better driver, Haas was at least as good as Alfa. Guess how many points Zhou scored? 1/3 of Bottas’s. Mick? 0.

    4) Points wise, Zhou outscored Mick during their 2 years in F2. Was the rookie of the year in 19, and had much worse luck in 20.

    5) If points tell you everything, I guess Ocon is better than Alonso? The thing is you have to look at pace also, where Zhou matched Bottas much better than Mick to Mag in 2H. Pace in F2 tells you a similar story. Mick was always a bad qualifier.

    6) I have yet to see a reputable media rate Mick higher than Zhou, also Mick lost his job while Zhou kept his. I wonder it has anything to do w. Zhou being a rookie is at least comparable to Mick in his 2nd year like I pointed out above? Give the guy a chance in 2023 then judge him vs. Mick.

  7. How is being considerably behind the guy who was hopeless against Lewis across 4 seasons an argument for Zhou?

    1. Sorry, that was supposed to be a reply to @zeus_m3

      1. Norris was considerably behind Sainz in his first half year as a rookie. Sainz was hopeless against Hulk and Lec. I can name Verstappen vs. his first experienced teammate Richiardo as well. Since when is matching a GP winner caliber experienced teammate in 2H of your rookie season not an achievement?

        1. When said GP winner is Valtteri Bottas. (or Eddie Irvine, or Rubens Barrichello, or Giancarlo Fisichella, or Mark Webber, really any number of hopeless number 2s in Championship-winning teams)

Comments are closed.