Zhou more comfortable ahead of second F1 season
By Mat Coch
Thursday 9th February, 2023 - 3:20pm
Alfa Romeo Sauber driver Guanyu Zhou heads into his second season more confident than he did in his rookie F1 campaign in 2022.
Zhou scored a world championship point on debut in Bahrain last year, adding five more over the course of the year.
Predictably, there were some teething issues; in both Bahrain and Saudi Arabia Zhou he allowed the revs to drop too low, which put the car into anti-stall.
He learned from those, and aside from a terrifying crash at the British Grand Prix put in a solid account of himself.
Embarking on his second season in F1, the Chinese driver is more sure of himself with 22 races now under his belt.
“What was very clear, last year, I was super nervous and intense,” he said.
“Now, I feel a bit more understanding with the team, with Formula 1 cars.
“I’m arriving into the first test [shakedown] in Barcelona and then Bahrain, I’ll be feeling a bit more comfortable and a bit more knowing what’s coming.”
Alfa Romeo Sauber had a mixed 2022 campaign, scoring well with Valtteri Bottas in the opening races before its performance tailed off.
That saw the team end up tied on points with Aston Martin for sixth in the constructors’ championship, though ahead courtesy of Bottas’ fifth in the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.
“From my side, spending the first year, my rookie season, with Alfa Romeo [I was] extremely honoured,” said Zhou.
“We achieved many highs and also some downs together, but let’s say overall I’m very satisfied with what we’ve done.
“We need to just keep working hard, making a further step up, and I’m sure together we can make it work.”
Second F1 season crucial for Zhou
The coming season is an important one for Sauber, which will lose Alfa Romeo branding at the end of the year.
Audi has purchased a stake in the Group ahead of the Hinwil squad becoming the factory team in 2026.
While that transformation remains three seasons away, the pressure will only increase on the team up to that point.
That is evidenced by the laying of foundations such as the appointment of former McLaren Team Principal Andreas Seidl join as CEO.
Zhou is out of contract at the end of this season, having agreed an extension last September.
Alongside race drivers Zhou and Bottas, Alfa Romeo Sauber also has Formula 2 race winner Theo Pourchaire on its books as Reserve Driver.
Alfa Romeo Sauber will be in action this week in Barcelona to shakedown the C43 ahead of pre-season testing in Bahrain from February 23-25.
The opening round of the season, the Bahrain Grand Prix, then runs from March 3-5.
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