Zhou Guanyu, Alfa Romeo, Albert Park, 2023

First three races show Zhou now “at the same level” as Bottas – Alfa Romeo

2023 F1 season

Posted on

| Written by

Zhou Guanyu has raised his performances to the level of his race-winning team mate in his second year in Formula 1, Alfa Romeo’s head of trackside engineering, Xevi Pujolar believes.

Zhou and Valtteri Bottas both joined the team at the start of 2022. Bottas arrived from Mercedes, where he won 10 races and finished runner-up to Lewis Hamilton in the world championship twice.

Over the first three rounds of 2023, Zhou and Bottas have scored a single points finish each, the sophomore driver earning his first score in the last race at Melbourne. Pujolar believes the pair are now on par with each other in terms of performance.

“I think now we’ve got both drivers who are a similar level,” said Pujolar in response to a question from RaceFans. “When one driver or the other one is faster or slower, it’s just the circumstance of the race.”

Bottas claimed eighth in the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, well ahead of Zhou who finished 16th. However Zhou has led the pair in the subsequent races.

In Saudi Arabia, Bottas sustained damage early in the race. He made an extra pit stop which left him 18th at the flag, five places behind Zhou.

Last time out Zhou picked up his first points of the season with ninth place, aided by the late retirement of the Alpine drivers, while Bottas endured a compromised afternoon as he pitted before a Safety Car period early on, and could only manage 11th.

Pujolar believes the differences between the drivers’ results are less to do with their performance than how the races have unfolded.

“In race one, Valtteri was very strong and then in the last two races for the circumstances also from qualifying and where they were and who are were fighting, it looked like Zhou was stronger. But then I’ll say that they’re performing at the same level.”

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

Zhou and Bottas race performances

Bahrain Grand Prix

Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

Australian Grand Prix

Become a RaceFans Supporter

RaceFans is run thanks in part to the generous support of its readers. By contributing £1 per month or £12 per year (or the same in whichever currency you use) you can help cover the costs of creating, hosting and developing RaceFans today and in the future.

Become a RaceFans Supporter today and browse the site ad-free. Sign up or find out more via the links below:

2023 F1 season

Browse all 2023 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.

16 comments on “First three races show Zhou now “at the same level” as Bottas – Alfa Romeo”

  1. I don’t expect driver changes at Team Hinwill, but should one happen for next season, Bottas would be more under threat if the current trend continues.
    Regardless, in all likelihood, the same lineup remains for a third consecutive season.

    1. @jerejj Probably, and after that Audi might want to give one of ‘their’ picks a full season to get used to everything without it carrying their name in 2025. Not sure who, though, as most of the standard Audi/Porsche drivers are more endurance-focused drivers (as one might expect).

      1. @MichaelN Possible, although Pourchaire is/would still also be in the frame.

  2. How depressing for the team. Talent is a major bottleneck. FIA should address this (next to the F1 Academy which is strangely enough not very inclusive) for future generations.

    1. The drivers you land when you’re doing your buddy a solid and sell the other seat to the highest bidder …

      Can’t really blame anyone but the person in charge.

  3. Even if the two drivers were now supposedly closer that wouldn’t necessarily be a good thing.

    1. Exactly, while Bottas being a ‘race-winning team mate’ is technically correct, I’m sure even Latifi would’ve managed a win or two in that Merc. Zhou needs to start consistently outperforming Bottas this year.

      1. I’m fairly sure he wont, however. While Bottas is not a top tier driver, he’s still a solid one. Tons of experience and consistently few (major) mistakes out-beats a few inspired drives by a reasonably talented, but inexperienced driver. I like Zhou and he will probably grow into a solid driver in a few years; but he’s not there yet, he has simply benefited by a couple of misfortunes for Bottas. The Alfa is a bad car (even worse than the Haas) with the slowest engine on the grid (ferrari, that is), which both drivers have somehow managed to score points with. Respect for that. But over the season Bottas will not be beaten by Zhou, despite Pujolars predictions based on the metrics of the first few races…

      2. Valtteri also had the distinction of being the only works Mercedes driver to go winless over an entire season in the turbo-hybrid era. (and actually since MSC in 2012)

        1. Hamilton also didn’t win last year.

          1. Hence the ‘had’.

      3. @Moi Zhou outperformed him in the last two events & I think he’ll continue this form.

        1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
          25th April 2023, 7:05


          2 cases of beating Bottas doesn’t show that much though. The only race that was very clearly Zhou being much better was the latest one – but then that was the case for Bottas in the first race. In Saudi Arabia, Bottas picked up significant damage on lap one but despite that was initially matching zhou for pace until later in the race.

          I’d say it’s been 1 – 1 for both drivers, but zhou wins qualifying – which I have to say is a bit disappointing from Bottas.

          I also don’t believe that zhou will continue more regularly beating bottas though over the whole season.

          1. @thegianthogweed True, Bottas got hampered by a carbon fiber piece from Piastri’s car in the Saudi Arabian GP, but otherwise, Zhou outperforming him has been on merit.
            Yes, things can turn around as the season progresses, but Zhou continuing to outperform him regularly is also possible. We’ll see.

      4. Just remember how even Mazepin was fast driving a Mercedes F1.

  4. We can’t even say if Zhou is performing better than last year. Relative to his teammate, yes, but this seems to be Bottas v6.0 or whatever was the last version.

Comments are closed.