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Alfa Romeo’s fastest lap bid with Zhou was targeted at Alpine · RaceFans

Alfa Romeo’s head of trackside engineering Xevi Pujolar has confirmed the team pitted Zhou Guanyu at the end of the Bahrain Grand Prix to take a point away from rivals Alpine.

The team sees Alpine and McLaren as their two main rivals at the start of the new season. Alfa Romeo sits ahead of both of them in the constructors’ standings in fifth place after Valtteri Bottas scored four points by finishing eighth last Sunday.

Alpine scored two points as Pierre Gasly finished ninth. He was also on course for the additional point for fastest lap before Zhou took it away from him on his last lap. Because Zhou finished outside of the top ten, he did not claim the point Gasly lost.

Pujolar explained the team’s tactical move after the race. He said Zhou’s start to the opening round was compromised when he lost four places at the start, which consigned him to a finish well outside the points-paying positions.

“With Zhou, it was just in the last part of the start pulling away, it went a bit too much [into] wheelspin and we lost some ground there,” he told media including RaceFans.

“After that, we were just trying to see if we will get back into the fight, towards the mid-point of the race. That’s why also we tried with a soft [tyre strategy] in the last part of the race in the third stint.”

Zhou pitted three times in total. His first two stops came on laps 12 and 32. But after failing to make the progress the team hoped to see in his third stint, Zhou was brought in again.

“We didn’t really pick up the pace as we wanted [before the final stop],” Pujolar added. “Probably the stint was a bit too challenging.”

As he was a lap down, Zhou had only one chance to get his tyres up to temperature in order to challenge Gasly’s fastest lap time.

“We tried to do at least a ‘team work’,” by sending Zhou out to set the fastest lap, said Pujolar. “He did a mega job to achieve the fastest lap, and then we removed that point from Alpine who, at the moment, are our competitors.”

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2023 Bahrain Grand Prix

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