Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake went from the high of yesterday’s strong qualifying performance to the challenge of a difficult race at the 2023 Formula 1 Hungarian Grand Prix, as the team didn’t get to build up on the solid performances shown on Saturday. Zhou Guanyu, starting in fifth position, suffered an issue with the brake system strategy, which caused a fail-safe on the engine side and severely compromised the start of his race, losing key positions on the opening lap and receiving a five-second penalty for an unfortunate collision with Daniel Ricciardo, before finishing 16th. The events also affected team-mate Valtteri Bottas, who lost ground as he avoided Zhou in front, and fought hard to climb back through the grid, eventually finishing in 12th place.
A tough Sunday at the Hungaroring for Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake: the team will now regroup and analyse today’s events as it heads to Spa-Francorchamps for the second and final leg of this back-to-back and the last race before Formula One heads into the summer break.
Valtteri Bottas (car number 77):
We had a good chance to turn a strong qualifying into points, but, unfortunately, our race got compromised on lap one, just after the start. Zhou, who was in front of me, had issues with the brake system strategy, so I had to move around him, losing momentum. On top of that, all the cars starting on soft tyres passed us quickly. Overall, our pace was not quite as good as yesterday, and it didn’t really allow us to climb back through the field. There’s a positive we will take with us to Belgium. We unlocked something more from our package on Saturday, so definitely, the potential was there, and we will aim to build on that. Of course, Spa will be a completely different track, but we will work hard this week to find the right configuration to further progress and kick back immediately.
Zhou Guanyu (car number 24):
The elation from yesterday’s result turned on its head, and there is no denying today has been very disappointing. We are yet to gather all the information about what exactly went on at the start: I was on full throttle, and then all of a sudden, something went wrong, and I had to do the entire procedure again just in order to do a proper start. We will be investigating this right away to avoid repetitions in the future. Having said that, our race was pretty much over after this moment: we were at the back of the grid, with not many chances to climb back. As a positive to take away from this weekend, it felt good to execute such a solid qualifying performance yesterday, with both cars in Q3, as a confirmation that the upgrades we brought in Silverstone are moving us in the right direction, and there is further potential to unlock. Hopefully, moving forward, we’ll be more competitive throughout the whole weekend. We’ll carry this momentum onto Spa, aiming to quickly bounce back and build up on the momentum we had on Saturday.
Alessandro Alunni Bravi, Team Representative:
After yesterday’s strong performance in qualifying, we are, of course, disappointed not to convert good starting positions with both cars into a double-points finish; occasions like this can’t be missed, so we will need to properly go through what went wrong today. Zhou’s car suffered an issue with the brake system strategy during the starting procedure, and that ended up jeopardising not just his race but both of our drivers’. Zhou lost 11 positions right before the first corner and subsequently hit Ricciardo while braking, for which he received a five-second penalty that was executed during his first pit stop. Valtteri had to avoid Zhou at the start, thus losing important positions he didn’t manage to recover. All of this resulted in both cars being outside the top ten from the start: we tried to recover with an aggressive strategy, changing earlier from Medium to Hard tyres and attempting to undercut those in front of us, but eventually didn’t have enough pace to climb back into the top ten. Today’s result is upsetting for the team, but there is at least one major positive from the weekend: our overall performance improved from the previous races, and we must carry it with us as we head to Spa next week for the final race before the summer break.