Valtteri Bottas and Guanyue Zhou, who started 11th and 10th in Canada, were trapped behind weak cars for long parts of the race. Zhou initially clashed with Mick Schumacher at Haas, until he was involuntarily replaced due to a technical fault. Stop straight after only going into the pit and get stuck again – this time behind Lance Stroll.
In Bottas’ case, Alexander Albon at Williams was the first to make life difficult for the Finn, before Fernando Alonso’s rear was directly in his field of vision for a long time. The defense came on lap 47, however, in the form of a pit exit mistake by Yuki Tsunoda, which locked a safety car.
Botta and Zhou’s problem? Very low top speed!
“The top pace strong Williams and the Alpines did really well, it was really hard to position on the track,” said Lewis Hamilton’s former teammate after the race. The second Alfa driver, Guanyue Zhou, agrees with Bottas on this point: “It was impossible for me, only two or three tenths behind him. [Lance Stroll; d. Red.] To get out of the hairpin. And since the DRS zone on the start-finish straight starts very late, he was always able to pull a little ahead of me. So after about 10 tries, I thought it was better to keep the tire alive.”
But luckily, on lap 47, the two alphas were helped either by chance or by Yuki Tsunoda at AlphaTauri. The Japanese were in the same position as the Zhou. After initially hanging long behind Lance Stroll, Zhou squeezed the middle of the two after a pit stop on lap 19 and the three drivers took 20 before Tsunoda was driven into the pits due to her rapidly deteriorating tyres. Followed each other for more laps.
And it was precisely this stage that would eventually propel Zhou forward. After a clean job by the AlphaTauri pit crew, the surprise came: the Japanese pushed too hard at the end of the pit exit and went straight into the TechPro barrier with their cold tires – the Safety Car (read more: Formula 1, Tsunada’s embarrassing mistake: I screwed it up!).
“Happy Days” Thanks to Perfect Safety Car Timing
Alfa-Sauber did not hesitate and on the next occasion called both drivers into the pits for a double stop. “Leaving a position or two down for a new set of tyres was the right decision,” Zhou said. His luck: Stroll had pitched the same lap as Tsunada and thus lost significantly more time than the two Alfa-Sauber drivers.
When the Chinese stop under the safety car and return to the track, the Canadians are followed by two cars. And when he was able to overtake Sebastian Vettel on lap 57, Zhou and Bottas flew around the track in formation and crossed the finish line in P8 and P7 respectively.
But the biggest beneficiary of the safety car was Valtteri Bottas. Unlike his Chinese teammate, he started on a rigid set of tyres, not a moderate compound like Zhou. From start to finish, he relied on good safety car timing. He endured 49 laps on hard tyres, hardly anyone driving longer on one set of tyres.
And so the Finn was particularly happy after the race and remarked with a slightly mischievous tone: “It may have actually been the first time in my life that I was lucky with a safety car – Happy Days! Indeed, it was great.” Looks like. But.”
Alpha-Sauber fourth strongest force?
It is clear that both the driver and the entire team around Frédéric Vasseur are extremely happy about this double point result after several race weekends that were anything but ideal. But how durable is this boom? On the Saturday after qualifying, Bottas commented on the performance of his racing car thus: “Mechanically, we understand the car. We still have some old aero parts installed, but hope to replace them soon.” But we definitely managed to find a really good set-up.”
“Maybe we can become the fourth strongest force. We are back where we were at the beginning of this year. We put pressure on the alpine and were even faster at the end,” said the Finn about the excellent result for Alfa-Sauber I got excited. Pardon me Formula 1 World Championship status 2022, the idea makes perfect sense. Because Alfa-Sauber are currently 6th in the Constructors’ Championship with 51 points, directly behind Alpine (57 points) and McLaren (65 points).
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