Jackman lifting Zhou’s car led to extra penalty

Michelle Foster
Guanyu Zhou and Alfa Romeo pit stop at night. Saudi Arabia March 2022

Guanyu Zhou and Alfa Romeo do a pit stop at night, Williams mechanic in the foreground. Saudi Arabia March 2022

The front jackman lifting Guanyu Zhou’s car when he stopped to serve his five-second penalty was the reason for the rookie’s extra penalty at the Jeddah circuit.

After his points-scoring debut in Bahrain, the Alfa Romeo driver had a difficult time at Sunday night’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

Although he lined up P12 on the grid, he suffered the same start issues that cost Valtteri Bottas at the Sakhir circuit and lost places off the line.

Squeezed at Turn 1, he made contact with Daniel Ricciardo, however, it was his overtake on Alex Albon that ultimately ruined his Sunday night.

Zhou passed the Williams driver off the track at Turn 1 and was deemed to have gained an advantage, the driver hit with a five-second time penalty as a result.

He took that when he came into the pits, however, Alfa Romeo got it wrong as the jackman lifted the car and then the team stood still for the five seconds.

That led to another penalty, this time a drive-through.

The stewards’ statement noted: “Although the team did not work on the car for five seconds after the lift, the actual lift counts as ‘work’ on the car, which is prohibited under Article 54.4(c).”

Zhou recovered from all that drama to finish P11, eight seconds short of a points-paying finish.

“I want to think this was a good experience in terms of getting more confidence with street circuits in Formula One. It was useful,” he said.

“But,” he added, “overall the race was definitely far from ideal: we had the anti-stall kicking in at Turn One, even though I had a much better start than in Bahrain, so we will need to understand what happened.

“I had made a good recovery from P18 and we were looking strong to bring home some points again, but the drive-through put us far at the back and that was it.”

He later added: “I think that even with the starting problem we would have scored points if we hadn’t received the drive-through penalty.”

His team-mate Valtteri Bottas failed to score, the Finn out of the grand prix due to cooling issues.

Team boss Fred Vasseur said: “It’s a disappointing end to an evening in which we showed so much pace. We were on course to have two cars in the points again, but luck was not on our side and we leave with nothing.


“Valtteri was stopped by a cooling issue when he was fighting for P6, while Zhou, who was recovering from the bottom after his car went into anti-stall after a contact with Ricciardo in Turn Two, would have been in the top ten if not for the drive-through penalty he was given.

“It hurts, but this is racing, sometimes, and all we have to do is pull ourselves up and make sure we keep delivering tonight’s speed at the next races.”

Alfa Romeo are P6 in the Constructors’ Championship on nine points.


The issue that led to Zhou’s extra penalty

Guanyu Zhou was given a second penalty for incorrectly serving his first penalty.