Zhou raises his game but Bottas still lays down the law at Alfa Romeo

2023 F1 team mates head-to-head

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Zhou Guanyu ended his first season as a Formula 1 driver well behind team mate Valtteri Bottas in the points standings, but having shown a clear upward trajectory in performance over the course of the season.

Alfa Romeo kept the faith in him for 2023, and he repeated his haul of six points from the year before. That might make it seem like no progress has been made but the reality is quite different.

For a clearer reflection of the team’s performance, look at the points haul of his experienced team mate. Bottas scored 49 points in 2022 but slipped to just 10 this year. Zhou took a much more respectable share of the team’s total.

But though the end result for Zhou was appreciably better, and he earned himself a third season in F1 on the way, areas remain in which he still needs to raise his game. Having lost the qualifying head-to-head 14-8 last year, Zhou fared slightly worse in his second season, when he might have been expected to raise his game.

Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 2023
Bottas was consistently Alfa Romeo’s top qualifier
Indeed, as the season went on, Zhou slipped slightly further away from his team mate, only out-qualifying him once in the last nine rounds. But they tended not to qualify as far apart as other sets of team mates, such as Fernando Alonso and Lance Stroll. Zhou’s average grid position of 15.6 was only 1.8 lower than his team mate’s, and his best qualifying position of fifth was the team’s best of the season.

Zhou finished the last two races of the season in good shape, taking the chequered flag ahead of Bottas. However the team was finding it increasingly difficult to compete with rivals which had out-developed them by this stage and Zhou finished well outside the points on both occasions.

So Zhou concluded his second season with just a trio of ninth places to show for his efforts. As Bottas was only able to get the Alfa Romeo home one place higher than that, the team’s decision to retain Zhou for next year looks reasonable. Now they need to deliver on their goal of developing a different and much more competitive car.

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Bottas Q

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

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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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4 comments on “Zhou raises his game but Bottas still lays down the law at Alfa Romeo”

  1. Bottas is a good driver, in his “retirement” years. Zhou needs to be doing more, just doesn’t seem to have the outright speed. With all respect, I can’t see him being poached or picked up by another team in the future based on these performances. 2024 may be his last chance.

    1. Agreed, he started surprisingly strong, but hadn’t really built on that. Bottas is a solid driver, but given that he’s probably in his last phase of his career Zhou would want to be closer to him by now.

      One imagine Audi is not going to put either in their 2026 cars.

  2. Please. More like lays down the yawn.

  3. Zhou will probably be at Sauber for 2024-2025 as they need his cash and then he’ll go to Haas or Formula e.

    It will be interesting to see what Pourchaire does next year if he goes to Super Formula….

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