Zhou reveals what it is like working with Bottas

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

Alfa Romeo rookie Zhou Guanyu has been detailing his relationship with team-mate Valtteri Bottas and how the Finn has helped him during his debut season.

Zhou was brought in to replace Antonio Giovinazzi for the 2022 season as part of a double driver change at Alfa with Bottas taking the seat of the retiring Kimi Raikkonen.

Their level of experience could have hardly been different though with Zhou making the move up from Formula 2 while the former Mercedes driver Bottas had competed in more than 175 grands prix.

Recognising this, Zhou has revealed that Bottas was only too happy to offer his experience to the Chinese driver and the 23-year-old described Bottas one of the nicest team-mates he has ever had in his career.

“[He is a] very great team-mate and it’s so nice,” Zhou said on the Beyond the Grid podcast. “It’s probably one of the nicest teams I [have ever] worked [in]. The last time I had a team-mate that nice is probably Cal [Callum Ilott, teammates at UNI-Virtuosi Racing in F2].

“Valtteri is great because with all his experience, he was able to not just answering all the questions I have sometimes he was even asking me like ‘how do you feel? Do you have something you want to know even even more about it?’

“I remember that very well, like in Bahrain they said 10 minutes before the pit-lane opened, before we put the helmet on, he was actually asking me ‘Do you have anything [to ask]?’ because he knew how nervous I was. It’s your debut in Formula 1.

 

“And since then we’ll be working along so well together. Also we have a very similar driving style so the feedback of the car is always quite equally matched. So for the direction of the team is very great for development.”

Zhou was also asked what was the best piece of advice Bottas had bestowed upon him and said it came during the Bahrain Grand Prix where the Finn reminded him to be patient.

“The beginning of my first ever grand prix in Bahrain, he said to me ‘So this is your first qualifying session, and then you have to just take it step by step. Don’t think about you have to give every thing on first try. If you can’t do it, you still have another try to do.’ It just kind of calmed me down.

“[In] Baku, even though it’s like a quarter way through the season, he said ‘Here you have to just go to the finish, [that] is the first thing you need to do in Baku.’ That’s before the race weekend started, he was like ‘Just go to the finish, you never know where you will finish.’ So it’s like things like that just motivate myself and just helped me a lot to become better.”

Bottas has also not shown too much of an ego and was happy when Zhou showed an improvement in Baku.

“On Friday, I was matching his pace,” Zhou said. “I think everyone is happy to see, also him, because then we really can push each other to finding this final few tenths where we have our full potential in the car.

“I think last weekend [the Canadian Grand Prix], obviously was a very strong performance for me and everybody and just very happy to be continue working that way but then [I] wouldn’t be there obviously without his help and I think we are very good matched team-mates.”