JV: Bottas should ‘never, ever get beaten by Zhou’

Henry Valantine
Zhou Guanyu and Valtteri Bottas. Barcelona May 2022.

Alfa Romeo drivers Zhou Guanyu and Valtteri Bottas walk together. Barcelona May 2022.

Jacques Villeneuve believes that Valtteri Bottas should go unbeaten against Zhou Guanyu at Alfa Romeo this season, given his race-winning experience and speed.

Bottas comfortably leads Zhou in the World Championship standings after a sterling start to the season, while Zhou’s P10 finish in Bahrain had been his only point of the year prior to last weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix.

Zhou has had reliability issues along the way which have halted his progress, including three retirements in four races, but in Baku and Montreal he outpaced Bottas in qualifying and ran ahead in the races, as he appears to find his feet in Formula 1.

But as well as the 23-year-old showing his own pace, the 1997 World Champion thinks this also reflects badly on a driver of Bottas’ calibre.

“He’s a very nice guy. He’s quick. He’s super-fast. He’s beaten Lewis [Hamilton] on the odd race, but not on a season,” Villeneuve said on the F1 Nation podcast.

“And that’s the difference from a champion like Lewis that has won so many races, that has won on every kind of track and every kind of conditions, and someone like Valtteri, who at times can be super quick, but not over a season. And he’s demonstrated that every year.”

It was then put to Villeneuve that around a layout such as Montreal, where walls are never far away on exit, Bottas did not have much opportunity to crank up the pace in his Alfa Romeo after car issues limited his practice running.

“Yeah, but Zhou has never been on this track, and he didn’t get much mileage either,” Villeneuve countered.

“So no, Bottas this year should never ever get beaten by Zhou. It’s just not on. Not a driver of his experience that has won so many races.

“This should not happen, mostly on a track that Zhou has not been on. I don’t know if it’s because he got used to not beating Lewis and that set him back a little bit and then he had an easy beginning of the year.

“He was looking good, running at the front, destroying Zhou, and suddenly Zhou is showing that he is quick and we’re not seeing the best Valtteri that we could or that we should the right now. He should be easily ahead of Zhou.”