Qatar pace shows latest Alfa F1 upgrades working

Bottas and team-mate Zhou Guanyu finished eighth and ninth at Losail, with the latter jumping the penalised Sergio Perez in the final results.

The six points earned move the Hinwil outfit above Haas to eighth place in the constructors’ table, leaving it just seven behind Williams.

Alfa has brought a stream of new parts over recent races, culminating in a beam wing that was introduced in Qatar, and which was in effect a finishing touch to help the new package work effectively as a whole.

“I feel like we definitely made some progress now, and finally understand 100% the upgrades,” said Bottas regarding the team’s recent steps.

“Of course, the next race is quite a different track again, but it seems like we were definitely a bit more competitive this week.”

Asked if the beam wing was the final piece in the puzzle he said: “It definitely helps a little bit. But we’re still draggy.

“I think we’re probably still the slowest on the straight, so something to work on.”

The two drivers took opposite strategies for the Qatar race, with Bottas starting on softs and dumping them under the early safety car before running three long stints, and Zhou doing a long opening run from his back of the grid starting position, followed by a brief outing on softs at the end.

Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo

Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo

Photo by: Alfa Romeo

Bottas said the team had done a good job on race day, while admitting that problems for others had helped to move him up the order.

“A really clean race,” he noted. “Good strategy. Of course, it felt a bit strange to stop after three laps from a good position!

“But in the end, that meant all the rest of the stints were just equal stints, and we thought that would be the fastest way to the flag and it was, so happy with that.

“Of course, we had been lucky in a way because Lewis [Hamilton] was out, then also [Carlos] Sainz didn’t start.

“So yeah, otherwise it would have been difficult. But sometimes you need that bit of luck. And today, we just got everything right.”

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After a recent disappointing run, Zhou was relieved to be back in the points.

«It was an amazing race,” he said. “Firstly very happy to get points for the team. From my side starting P19 it was not easy, fighting with Sergio at the beginning, I knew if I kept him behind maybe I’d have a chance.

“And that was the case, the laps I held him helped me for the end stint and catching him.”

Guanyu Zhou, Alfa Romeo

Guanyu Zhou, Alfa Romeo

Photo by: Alfa Romeo

Asked about the chances of the team overhauling Williams he said: «I feel to catch them is still quite far, but I think this is just a very good target for us to reach now.

“I think purely on racecraft, we are better than Haas, and we finally caught them and overtook them.

“But we need to improve Saturday, it’s been a messy one, the last three events for me. So clear that up and we’ll have more opportunities.»

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