Valtteri Bottas has backed his Alfa Romeo teammate Zhou Guanyu to shine in his second F1 season this year.
Zhou Guanyu became the first Chinese driver in F1 when he made the jump from F2 in 2022 to take the place of Antonio Giovinazzi. He was paired with the experienced Valtteri Bottas, who left Mercedes after a five-year spell to fill the seat vacated by retired former world champion Kimi Raikkonen.
The Finn took on the role of mentor as the pair worked well in tandem to lift Alfa Romeo to sixth in the Constructors’ Championship standings in 2022. While Bottas did most of the heavy lifting in the points department, his teammate finished in the points on three occasions, including his debut in Bahrain last year.
Zhou Guanyu was also involved in a death-defying crash at Silverstone but was able to emerge from the incident unscathed.
Heading into the season opener in Sakhir later this week, Valtteri Bottas believes Zhou Guanyo has grown and evolved as a driver. In an interview with Total Motorsport, he said:
“It’s been nice to see his development curve has been pretty steep from the beginning of last year. He became almost like a different driver in a way. [He’s become] much more confident in his driving, feedback, racing, and qualifying, so he had a good rookie season overall.
“He made very few mistakes and got some points as well. No doubt he’s going to get way more points this year, and he’s going to be a good teammate to battle with for sure.”
However, the primary target for the pair is to work as a team and see if they can find more improved performances with the Alfa Romeo C43 this time around.
The 33-year-old went on to add:
“But the main thing is we will be able to work well together like last year. So I’m looking forward to it. I think he has been proven throughout last year that he belongs in F1, and obviously, this year is another test for the driver. [But] I have no concerns, [he’ll] be fine.”
Valtteri Bottas aiming to return to the podium with Alfa Romeo in 2023
Valtteri Bottas is keen to return to the F1 podium again in his second season with Alfa Romeo.
The Finnish driver had a successful stint at Mercedes alongside Lewis Hamilton before moving to Sauber last season. While he enjoyed a run of positive results at the start of the season, the highlight of which was a P5 finish at Imola, the team’s performance dipped as the campaign continued.
Now in his second year with the Zurich-based outfit, Valtteri Bottas is hoping to improve his and the team’s performances in 2023.
While speaking to Reuters during the launch event of the Alfa Romeo C43, the 33-year-old said:
“The goal for this season is to finish higher than last year and to be much more consistent. Last year we had too many ups and downs. Also, secretly, I always dream of finishing on the podium, so let’s see.”
Bottas has not been on the podium since the 2021 F1 Saudi Arabian GP back when he was driving for Mercedes. It would be no mean feat if he were to find his way back there with Alfa Romeo this year.