Zhou hoping for “very good step forward” from Alfa Romeo’s Melbourne upgrades

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In the round-up: Zhou Guanyu is eager to try out Alfa Romeo’s upgrades for this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix.

In brief

Zhou eager for Alfa Romeo upgrades

Zhou said “hopefully a very good step forward” will be achieved with the inclusion of the new parts, although recognised Alfa Romeo’s progress up the order also “obviously depends on other teams” bringing upgrades and how effective they are.

The target of the upgrades is to “bring us a little bit more forward, like last year at the beginning of the year” when Alfa Romeo sat as high as fourth in the constructors’ standings with consistent points-scoring. They currently sit sixth in the 2023 standings with four points from the first two races.

“Every upgrade you bring is to bring more downforce, so hopefully that can bring us that step forward,” added Zhou, who is one of seven drivers looking to score his first point of 2023 this weekend.

Piastri predicts “crazy experience” for first home race

McLaren rookie Oscar Piastri will race on home ground in the Australian Grand Prix for the first time this weekend, and is anticipating a lot of attention.

The Melbourne native spent his junior single-seater career racing primarily in Europe, and did not get the chance to race in last year’s grand prix after missing out on an F1 seat despite winning the 2021 Formula 2 title as a rookie.

“It’s my first home race as a driver, which will be an amazing experience regardless of how it goes. Can’t wait to get there,” said Piastri before heading back to his home country.

“I’m looking forward to it. I think even last year, being a reserve driver [with Alpine], it was already a pretty crazy experience. I think I’ve got somewhat of an idea to expect. I’m sure it’ll be another step crazier this year, but I’m looking forward to it. It’s an honour to have a home race. And in my hometown as well, it’s going to be very special.”

Steiner: F1 now has “four very strong teams”

Haas team principal Gunther Steiner believes the team could be fighting for no higher than ninth place in races from now on.

Going into the third round of the championship Haas lies seventh, one point off the bottom of the table in the close midfield fight. “This year we started off with a clear target in mind to better our position in the constructors’ championship from last year,” said Steiner, whose team finished eighth last year.

“As we all found out there are four very strong teams now in Formula 1 and the points that are up for grabs are not many. In Bahrain, we didn’t score but now we’ve scored one point in Saudi Arabia, and it was done pretty well. By saying that, I mean we didn’t luck into the point, we fought well for it.”

“There are only a few points available for the midfield teams and everyone is in that midfield, from P6 down it’s all midfield, there is nobody behind,” he added. “We must take every opportunity. I think we are in the midfield, the upper end of it, but every race could see a change where each team is.”

F1 places second in 2023 Sustainabile Motorsport Index

The March 2023 edition of the Sustainable Motorsport Index has rated F1 as the second-most sustainable major championship in the world behind Formula E.

The all-electric FE series has traded on its environmental reputation since its inception in 2014. F1 has incorporated hybrid elements in its technical regulations every year since 2011 but in recent years has had a growing calendar with more flyaway trips that have increased its carbon footprint.

FE was given a rating 85 out of 100 for sustainability, with its recycling of old chassis highlighted as one of its innovations. The series was praised for the initiatives it launched last season, including a clean air scheme with UNICEF.

F1’s sustainability impact was rated 67, meaning it ranked second in the index for the second straight year. Despite delivering on targets from its 2019 Sustainability Strategy, F1 did not do enough to be considered a ‘high sustainability’ performance category. However the index noted it is on course to be certified as such in the future and was praised for “99% of fans in general admission using public transport or walking to reach the 2022 Dutch GP at Zandvoort”.

Electric off-road series Extreme E placed third in the index ahead of Moto GP. There are five levels of sustainability that the index puts series into, with FE in the top band and F1 in the one below.

W Series’ 2022 season was placed in the fourth band, while every other single-seater series that was assessed was placed in the bottom level of sustainability, along with the World Endurance Championship.

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Comment of the day

Craig Pollock, formerly of British American Racing, has confirmed he is making another attempt to return to F1 with the creation of a new team that aims to have a workforce with an equal gender split and a base outside of Europe. His belief behind the viability of such a project hasn’t transferred across to all readers, particularly given his last attempt to launch a new F1 team.

I expect this to go about as well as PURE Power and BAR Honda. This seems to be a play to get attention more than anything else. Building a team from scratch outside of UK’s Motorsports Valley seems like a long-shot. Consider how Toyota’s F1 team fared…
Doug Adamavich

Happy birthday!

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On this day in motorsport

  • 25 years ago today Mika Hakkinen led McLaren team mate David Coulthard to victory in the Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos

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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...

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6 comments on “Zhou hoping for “very good step forward” from Alfa Romeo’s Melbourne upgrades”

  1. The current competitive order indeed doesn’t have a clear-cut tailend or even midfield, upper or lower.

    I can’t see Ricciardo making a full-time return next season either, as his chances are effectively non-existed, with most teams having clear driver plans for the medium-long term.
    2025 is another matter, but specifically, next season is unrealistic.
    Checo is under contract until next year’s end, so his short-term situation is already assured.

    1. Checo is under contract until next year’s end, so his short-term situation is already assured.

      Ricciardo himself was under contract for another year when he was displaced, remember….

    2. Ricciardo’s gonna have to suck it up if he wants a seat next year, for sure. He doesn’t want to go to Haas, so can probably rule out Williams too. I don’t see Alpha Tauri keeping both drivers next year. Which might be an interesting option. Race with AT for 1 year then maybe take Perez’s spot.

      But the most interesting, imo, is Alpha Romeo/Audi. They can’t keep Zhou another year. He’s not been anywhere near Bottas last year or this year.

      Ultimately I think he’s done with F1 but AT or Audi would be really fun, as a spectator.

      1. @Jay
        AT is a no-go for him. Even if they let either Tsunoda or De Vries (not both) go, the sacked one would get replaced by a Red Bull driver from F2 or Lawson.
        Alfa Romeo/Sauber/Audi is also effectively a no-go, not only because Zhou will continue in all likelihood unless he starts underperforming (which is unlikely, not to mention over the first two events, he showed he can match Bottas or even outperform him, with or without the debris that hampered Bottas in Jeddah, but especially in qualifying).
        Furthermore, Pourchaire is the clear-cut priority in any driver change scenario & after him, probably Mick (should both Zhou & Pourchaire underperform).
        One obstacle to Ricciardo’s Team Hinwill chance (even if he wanted to join a midfielder) is a certain Andreas Seidl, who I doubt would consider taking him, knowing very well his adaptation weakness from Mclaren.

      2. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
        29th March 2023, 19:59

        Zhou was very close to Bottas in qualifying in the first race weekend this year and beat him last time out in qualifying and on race day. Bottas did have damage during the race last time out but you can’t say that he’s not been anywhere near Bottas when it’s been 1 : 1 in qualifying and the race to them both – And Zhou happens to have the larger advantage regarding the time he beat Bottas too in both.

        1. With all respect, you think Zhou did well last year? To me it looks like the worst teammate comparison, other than than McLaren.

          @jerejj RB picked Perez over their RB Juniors. And it seems RB still has big respect for Ricciardo. Not to mention they let Gasly go, a race winner at AT!

          It’s a long shot and like I said, Ricciardo would have to take a major ego hit, and pay cut, but I find it plausible.

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