Formula 1: One midfield team’s underrated performance in Bahrain

Guanyu Zhou and Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo, Formula 1 (Photo by Michael Potts/BSR Agency/Getty Images)
Guanyu Zhou and Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo, Formula 1 (Photo by Michael Potts/BSR Agency/Getty Images) /

The 2023 Formula 1 season is officially underway following the Bahrain Grand Prix, and Alfa Romeo’s performance definitely went under the radar.

After the first race weekend of the 2023 Formula 1 season ended in Bahrain, the headlines were consumed with Red Bull’s dominance, Ferrari’s struggles, and Aston Martin’s pace. However, a performance that went under the radar was Alfa Romeo’s.

The team silently put up four points on the board, courtesy of Valtteri Bottas, and were awarded the DHL Fastest Lap Award, thanks to Guanyu Zhou. Alfa Romeo currently sit in fifth place in the constructor standings, making a statement that they are fighting to be the “best of the rest”.

Prior to the race weekend, Valtteri Bottas made some confident remarks regarding the C43 and its potential — specifically, the thought of challenging his former team, Mercedes.

"“From the long runs, it seemed we could. There were some runs in which they were faster than us, but then there were times in which they were slower than us. It really depends [on] if they managed to fix any issues that they potentially had, but from our numbers they didn’t look like they were going to be fighting for the win. But you never know.”"

Alfa Romeo seem to be performing as expected, based on their results in Formula 1 testing and the data acquired.

Team representative Alessandro Alumni Bravi had this to say.

"“This result is in line with what we were expecting following last week’s testing and the data we got in practice.”"

Aside from that, the C43, in combination with the team’s strategy, really optimized their overall performance. Alfa Romeo set out with quite an aggressive game plan along, with good timing to box.

Bottas started 12th on the grid and lost a couple of places at the start, but he quickly made his way into the points over the first 15 laps. His performance and boxing strategy went hand in hand. He went 11 laps on new softs, 18 on new hards, and 28 on another set of new hards.

The Finnish driver was happy with his performance in the end.

"“We went out aggressively, both on track and with our strategy, and it was definitely the right thing to do. We also had to be smart and pick our battles, making sure we kept some of our tyres for when we needed it: it turned out to be important at the end, when it got a bit close with Gasly, but in the end we brought it home.”"

Guanyu Zhou was stuck in quite an unfortunate scenario for the duration of the race.

"“As for tonight’s race, I suffered a bit of wheelspin in the opening lap, losing a few places and ending stuck in a DRS train for most of the race. The VSC came out at the wrong time and there wasn’t much we could do to improve our position at that stage.”"

Zhou had quite an unlucky race, but that did not prevent him from helping out the team. Alfa Romeo’s team not only wanted the maximum points for themselves but played it smart and tried to take away points from their competition.

It was successful, as Zhou boxed for a set of used softs with just two laps left and was set free to take the fastest lap point away from Alpine’s Pierre Gasly.

Alfa Romeo’s performance was much better than people may have realized. Everything came together for the team in Bahrain, giving them optimism going forward. The team based out of Hinwil will definitely be in a fierce battle with Alpine, McLaren, and potentially even Williams for fifth place moving forward.

Next. All-time Formula 1 wins list. dark

It will be very exciting to see how well Alfa Romeo do in future races. Be on the lookout for more during the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, which is scheduled to take place at Jeddah Corniche Circuit on Sunday, March 19. ESPN is set to broadcast the race live beginning at 1:00 p.m. ET, so begin a free trial of FuboTV and don’t miss it!