Zhou wants both Alfas in the points after first Q3 appearance

Jamie Woodhouse
Zhou Guanyu, Alfa Romeo, splashes through the puddles. Canada, June 2022.

Zhou Guanyu reached Q3 for the first time in his F1 career in Canada and hopes both Alfa Romeos will score points in the race.

The Chinese racer’s rookie campaign had stalled a bit since scoring a point on debut in Bahrain, but following an improved showing in Baku, where he outqualified his team-mate Valtteri Bottas, Zhou did the same again in Canada as he shone in the wet conditions.

Bottas narrowly missed out on Q3, so with the Alfas starting P10 and P11 Zhou sees a great opportunity for the Swiss-based team to record a double points finish.

Reacting to that first Q3 appearance, Zhou told reporters: “The car felt very slippery, the conditions were changing. At the beginning of Q1 it was like a four-way track, more slippery than FP3, and then we were able to get finally a clean lap because it was difficult to see out there with 20 cars on track.

“And then in Q2, we made a very clean session and got ourselves a good position for Q3, so I was just so happy that already from this first time around I was able to already put myself in Q3, the first in my career, so it means a lot to me.

“For my session, I don’t know what happened at the end, the car felt very good on my side and I felt like Q3 was very good potential, even though my lap in Q2 was quite messy. But I think on my side I was able to extract everything I had.

“I feel like tomorrow is another long day, we have to keep fighting for points. Let’s see about the performance. We are starting quite close together – maybe we can do something to get both cars in the points.”

Zhou explained his team-mate Bottas, a 10-time race winner in Formula 1, has played a “key” role in helping him reach a comparable level to the ex-Mercedes driver.

“To be closing that gap, to be learning from Valtteri, is definitely the key and it’s been very helpful so far this season,” said Zhou. “We are having a good time and we always try to improve.”

Bottas felt his chances of reaching Q3 were hindered by being one of the first to cross the line when the chequered flag was shown.

Nonetheless, while he was stripped of the chance to put any high-fuel runs together in practice due to an anti-stall issue, he is relatively confident for the race, saying Alfa Romeo’s race pace is “always quite okay”.

“Overall the feeling was pretty good in the wet and dry conditions, but I think just a bit unlucky with the timings because I was one of the first ones to get to the chequered flag,” said Bottas of his Q2 elimination.

“Yesterday [Friday] I didn’t get that many laps, and no laps on high fuel, but I think with the set-up we put for today we also kept in mind for tomorrow, so I think the race pace is always quite okay, so no big concerns.”