• Chris Kato

Bottas vs Zhou - Teammate Tale of the Tape - Alfa Romeo

A fresh start for Alfa Romeo in 2022 but will their driver lineup and car help them escape the bottom of the standings?




Alfa Romeo is the only team in 2022 with a completely new driver lineup entering this season. After three years of a Raikkonen/Giovinazzi partnership, Alfa Romeo starts fresh this season with their new drivers Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu. It's a dynamic of youth vs experience as Zhou is the only rookie in F1 this season while his teammate Bottas is entering his 10th season in the sport. We've already seen these two hit the track in Barcelona and Bahrain in the C42 but today we're going to preview the teammate battle at Alfa Romeo and what we can expect from them in 2022.



Teammate Tale of the Tape - Bottas vs Zhou




Alfa Romeo was in need of some change and a new direction as a team after many difficult seasons in the bottom of the standings. The retirement of Kimi Raikkonen and the promotion of George Russell opened the doors for Alfa Romeo to sign a veteran Grand Prix winner and a promising rookie talent. So let's dive right into the numbers between the Bottas and Zhou tale of the tape.




Since Zhou is F1's only rookie in 2022, we've taken his numbers from his F2 career so keep that in mind as a direct comparison between these two drivers is difficult at the moment. Alfa Romeo will really benefit from Bottas' 178 Grand Prix starts and the 10 wins that he brings to the team. His 5 seasons at Mercedes saw him rack up 67 podiums and a best championship finish of 2nd which he achieved twice. Of course going up against the 7 time world champion Lewis Hamilton has left him with a 4-5 record vs his teammates in F1 but the Finn is heading into this season as the heavy favorite over his young teammate. On the other side of the garage, you have Zhou Guanyu who racked up 68 Grand Prix starts in Formula 2, claiming 5 race victories along with 20 podium finishes. In three seasons of Formula 2, Zhou was only able to beat his teammate once and that came in his last season of F2 in 2021. Now that you've seen the two drivers head to head, let's look at each driver individually and get to know them a little better.




#77 - Valtteri Bottas




Bottas was handed an opportunity of a lifetime back in 2017 when he joined Mercedes to fill the void left by the retiring Nico Rosberg. Although Bottas fell short of winning a championship in what was then the most dominant car and team, he can still be proud of his achievements and look forward to an exciting new project at a team like Alfa Romeo. Bottas had plenty of moments of brilliance in the past few years, scoring 20 pole positions in his career and displaying an unbelievable level of consistency in qualifying. His average starting position is 6th while he's also reached Q3 in 150 out of 178 attempts. He was also able to reach Q3 in every single outing of his Mercedes career which is a truly impressive statistic. Despite an obvious step down in terms of team and car performance, Bottas is very excited and motivated to build something strong for the future at Alfa Romeo. 2022 offers the perfect setting for Alfa Romeo and Bottas to get a fresh start. The Finn's expectations are realistic and he knows this is a long term project but that hasn't dampened his spirits heading into 2022. Bottas is going to enjoy being the number one at a team and his recent tenure at a championship winning squad will hopefully help push Alfa Romeo in the right direction. Bottas is also one of the best teammates you can have on the grid which is great news for his rookie teammate but also the team as well. At the age of 32, Bottas still has plenty of speed and he's show throughout his 9 seasons of F1 that on his best day he can go head to head with the best. It's been a while since he's raced in the mid-field but Bottas is hoping that his new team won't be there for long and that he can help Alfa Romeo get back into the competitive ranks of Formula 1.




#24 - Guanyu Zhou




China has a population of over 1 billion people but until 2022, they've never had a driver compete in a full Formula 1 season. Zhou Guanyu has the honor of becoming China's first Formula 1 driver. The 22 year old Shanghai native fell in love with motorsport at the age of five while watching Fernando Alonso at the 2004 Chinese Grand Prix. As his career progressed, he moved to England at the age of 12 and soon joined the Renault driver academy. He made his Formula 2 debut in 2019 and spent three seasons in the series, progressively getting better and better each season. His best championship finish was third which he achieved last season and along with his 5 F2 wins, he also managed to score 3 pole positions to his name. His average qualifying position is 7th while his average finishing spot is one higher at 6th. Zhou wasn't able to capture an F2 title in his 3 seasons in the category but his strong 2021 campaign was enough to show Alfa Romeo that he was a driver worth promoting into Formula 1. Despite being the only rookie in 2022, Zhou isn't feeling as much pressure as he did last season when he was trying to make it into F1.Zhou obviously has the talent and resume for a Formula 1 seat. However, it is clear as to why he was at the front of the queue to get the seat at Alfa Romeo over some other young talents. Zhou has significant financial backing that he brings to Alfa Romeo but it is also his nationality that had F1 eager to see him join the grid. Having a Chinese Formula 1 driver is huge for the F1 bosses and it's essential to their aspirations of growing the sport in China. Their is no doubt about Zhou's speed, talent, and potential. He's also very professional with a good work ethic but 2022 will be a big challenge for the Chinese driver in order to bring Alfa Romeo good results and keep up with a very quick teammate.




What Can We Expect From Alfa Romeo in 2022




Alfa Romeo hasn't had the smoothest start to the season when we consider their outings in Barcelona and Bahrain testing. They had plenty of floor and reliability issues throughout the two sessions which limited their running heavily. They only completed 175 laps in Barcelona which was second fewest but thankfully the Bahrain test went much smoother. Alfa completed the 4th most laps in the three days of testing in Bahrain while Bottas managed to set the 6th fastest lap time on the C3 tyre during the final day of running. A troublesome 2022 pre-season testing for Alfa Romeo is certainly not the way they would've liked to start the new era. Hopefully these pre-season issues will be a thing of the past once the season gets underway. Alfa Romeo must get off to a good start in this new era as they suffered greatly during the last big regulation change of 2017 which effected them for years. Even with the 6 days of pre-season testing, it is impossible to tell where Alfa Romeo will fall in the pecking order but the rate of development will be rapid this year and that will be important for Alfa to keep up with their rivals. They have a solid driver lineup with Bottas and Zhou and the partnership should work well together as both drivers and professional and easy to get along with. The key to Alfa Romeo getting back up into the top of the mid-field will be both drivers consistently bringing the results and maximizing the performance of the car. They've missed out on many points in the last few years thanks to the up and down performances of their drivers so Alfa Romeo is hoping that Bottas and Zhou will bring a much needed stability to a team that has fallen short as of late.



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