Zhou Guanyu reveals Valtteri Bottas’ influence on his rookie F1 campaign

Sam Cooper
Zhou Guanyu and Valtteri Bottas. Barcelona May 2022.

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

As the only rookie on the F1 2022 grid, Zhou Guanyu has been reflecting on his year and what Valtteri Bottas was like as a teacher.

With sweeping regulation changes, many teams opted to stick with their current drivers in the hopes of some stability, meaning that Zhou was the only new face on the ’22 grid.

He formed one half of an entirely new-look Alfa team with him and Bottas replacing Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi.

While Zhou did not exactly set the world on fire, he finished P18 with just six points, he showed enough potential for Sauber to trust him with another year in the team.

Looking back, Zhou said the lack of practice time made it hard for him to get used to the car, especially during qualifying.

“It’s pretty tough, especially this year,” Zhou told media including PlanetF1.com. “Because in pre-season even though we have two or three days in Barcelona and Bahrain, the driver doesn’t do all the test days.

“Also we had a lot of issues with porpoising so we couldn’t really run the normal programme. So for us, Bahrain was the first actual proper test we were able to do and sit down and look through the data to analyse.

“It’s tough in that way because you have three days to learn the car and that was one of the biggest factors during qualifying for me. I wasn’t able to put the car together in my one lap in the first six races and then you learn quickly from that onwards.”

Despite his rookie status, he did at least have one of the most experienced drivers on the grid as team-mate in the form of Bottas and Zhou said the Finn was crucial in his first race.

“[He’s] definitely one of the best teachers I’ve had in my racing time,” he said. “Of course, I’ve had some drivers I got along with quite well, but with Valtteri, he’s really just taking the time to help me.

“Especially from my first race because that’s the race I remember the most. It’s my first grand prix and there’s a lot of things I have to be learning from so yes, it’s been an amazing season.

“I’ve tried copying what he’s doing on track and off track just to be learning how to be a professional Formula 1 driver.”

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