Alfa Romeo rue DRS coming too late at Imola for Zhou

Michelle Foster
Zhou Guanyu behind a Haas and a Williams. Imola April 2022

Alfa Romeo driver Zhou Guanyu behind a Haas and a Williams. Imola April 2022

In a race where many believe the race director was too cautious when it came to enabling DRS, Alfa Romeo kept pushing for it.

But, by the time it was enabled on Lap 34, it was too late for Zhou Guanyu to get into the points.

Sunday’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix got underway on a wet Imola circuit with Valtteri Bottas seventh on the grid while his team-mate Zhou started from the pit lane after his sprint qualifying crash.

While Bottas spent his race lapping inside the top ten, going on to finish P5, Zhou struggled to recover position as he found himself stuck in a train of cars.

Led by the Williams of Nicholas Latifi, the drivers ran nose to tail with the entire train finding it very difficult to pass the car ahead.

They weren’t helped by the race director’s decision not to enable DRS, presumably because they felt the track wasn’t dry enough to do so safely.

Alfa Romeo’s head of track engineering Xevi Pujolar admits that cost his driver.

Pujolar said as per GPFans: “We were asking them actually because they will do it when they think it is safe enough to have the DRS open.

“But obviously, for us, because we were stuck behind Latifi, we were saying ‘The drivers are saying it is good enough. Can we have the DRS?’.

“Eventually, we got the DRS but obviously, when you are fighting behind another guy and pushing trying to keep close, by the time we got the DRS and overtook him, the tyres had taken a hit already and we had to just manage his tyres to the end so that was not ideal.

“Because I think we had good pace as well on Zhou’s car and had potential to recover further positions.”

Although the teams are not allowed to badger the race director as of this season, they do still have a line of communication to the person in charge.

Zhou wasn’t the only driver struggling to make moves, in fact the race was more processional than a race because of the lack of DRS.

Alex Albon was the driver unlucky to finish in 11th place, the first non-scorer, with the Williams man saying the lack of DRS didn’t help him.

And then when it was enabled, that also didn’t help.

“Honestly, I wanted [DRS] to come in earlier because we had six or seven laps where I was a lot quicker than the cars in front,” he said.

“I knew with our downforce level we could overtake these cars straight away with DRS and I was a bit frustrated that it took so long to come in.

“Obviously once it did come in, I was wishing it didn’t come in.


“I can understand why they don’t want to risk it. Obviously, there was a big crash here last year so I’m sure that plays on their minds.”

Last season George Russell had a big crash with Valtteri Bottas, both drivers lucky to walk away unhurt.


Was Race Control too cautious with DRS at Imola?

DRS wasn't enabled until half way through Sunday's race at Imola. Was Race Control right to hold off for that long?