Alfa Romeo’s fastest lap bid with Zhou was targeted at Alpine

2023 Bahrain Grand Prix

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Alfa Romeo’s head of trackside engineering Xevi Pujolar has confirmed the team pitted Zhou Guanyu at the end of the Bahrain Grand Prix to take a point away from rivals Alpine.

The team sees Alpine and McLaren as their two main rivals at the start of the new season. Alfa Romeo sits ahead of both of them in the constructors’ standings in fifth place after Valtteri Bottas scored four points by finishing eighth last Sunday.

Alpine scored two points as Pierre Gasly finished ninth. He was also on course for the additional point for fastest lap before Zhou took it away from him on his last lap. Because Zhou finished outside of the top ten, he did not claim the point Gasly lost.

Pujolar explained the team’s tactical move after the race. He said Zhou’s start to the opening round was compromised when he lost four places at the start, which consigned him to a finish well outside the points-paying positions.

“With Zhou, it was just in the last part of the start pulling away, it went a bit too much [into] wheelspin and we lost some ground there,” he told media including RaceFans.

“After that, we were just trying to see if we will get back into the fight, towards the mid-point of the race. That’s why also we tried with a soft [tyre strategy] in the last part of the race in the third stint.”

Zhou pitted three times in total. His first two stops came on laps 12 and 32. But after failing to make the progress the team hoped to see in his third stint, Zhou was brought in again.

“We didn’t really pick up the pace as we wanted [before the final stop],” Pujolar added. “Probably the stint was a bit too challenging.”

As he was a lap down, Zhou had only one chance to get his tyres up to temperature in order to challenge Gasly’s fastest lap time.

“We tried to do at least a ‘team work’,” by sending Zhou out to set the fastest lap, said Pujolar. “He did a mega job to achieve the fastest lap, and then we removed that point from Alpine who, at the moment, are our competitors.”

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2023 Bahrain Grand Prix

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Author information

Ida Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching photography back in the UK. Currently based...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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8 comments on “Alfa Romeo’s fastest lap bid with Zhou was targeted at Alpine”

  1. Killer instinct! That’s got Red Bull worried.

  2. I had no doubts tat the time that was the main reason.
    And at the moment no one knows how the season will progress, Alfa tied on points last season with Aston Martin already, so taking away points form a perceived rival makes all sense, even if this early in the “game”.
    I thought it was a good move, I was just personally disappointed because if Gasly got the fastest lap bonus point it would be a great extra reward for his excellent race.

  3. The motive was very obvious immediately, & every single point counts or can count in the midfield, so Alfa Romeo being two points ahead of Alpine instead of one could prove crucial later in the season.

    1. Indeed and with Aston appearing to get a 4th team safe status the rest has even less points available. So every point is gold. I wonder if F1 should not get points up to 15th or 12th.

      1. Jose Lopes da Silva
        7th March 2023, 19:55

        You’re cracking old timers heads. Don’t do that. They dream of points up to 6th place.

  4. I still really dislike the silly bonus point for fast lap because as this and the many instances of someone pitting late for fresh tyres shows it’s an utterly irrelevant metric that is simply not worthy of an extra point which lets not forget could skew the championship as we have had championships decided by 1 point or less.

    I mean is it something fans really care about? It barely gets talked about on the broadcast, Drivers & teams rarely (If ever) talk about it & it’s just something that doesn’t feel important (Or worthy) enough to warrant a potentially championship deciding point. Awards points for finishing position which is the only real metric that should matter in the championship.

    1. I hate it as a passion by mid season it will again be the consolation point for the driver finishing last of the front runners. Would rather a bonus point for pole.

    2. I wouldn’t mind if it was available to all drivers regardless of position. At least then we might see some excitement on the last lap as the tail enders all pit and try to get a gap to go for it.

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