Guanyu Zhou has acknowledged that setting the fastest lap time on the second day of Formula 1 pre-season testing means relatively little at this stage, despite it being a “nice” feeling to see his name at the top.
The Alfa Romeo driver clocked a time of 1:31.610 late in the day around the Bahrain International Circuit to displace Max Verstappen at the top, albeit on a two-step softer compound of tyre choice.
Last year Alfa Romeo suffered numerous setbacks in winter testing, which led to it eventually completing the second least laps of any constructor.
This year, however, the Italian marque has endured a much smoother time of things, with Zhou also completing a colossal 133 laps on Friday to add to the 138 the team accumulated on the opening day.
Although Zhou has downplayed the significance of his table-topping time, the ex-Alpine affiliate has expressed positivity over Alfa Romeo’s prospects for 2023.
“We are well aware this is testing, of course, and everyone is trying different settings, but it feels nice to see my name and that of the team up there in the timing sheets,” Zhou remarked.
“It’s been a positive day overall, we got more mileage in and went through all the targets and tasks we had set for ourselves, so I can say I am happy. The car felt reasonably good, both in daytime and night-time conditions, and I felt more confident pushing as the day progressed.”
After completing a full day in the car to add to his morning session from Thursday, Zhou will hand over the reins to Valtteri Bottas for all of tomorrow.
The next time the Chinese driver sits inside the cockpit of the C43 will be in a week’s time for the start of the season-opening Bahrain GP weekend.
Since navigating his rookie campaign impressively enough to retain his drive for the upcoming year, Zhou feels prepared as he looks ahead to his sophomore season in the sport.
“Today was the final day of pre-season testing for me, and I am very much looking forward to the start of the season next week,” he added.
“I feel ready and excited about the new campaign, and I can’t wait to be racing again.”
Along with all the other teams, Alfa Romeo will have one final day to gather critical data about its new package before the season begins at the same Bahrain venue next weekend.
The Hinwil-based outfit is aiming to build on a moderately impressive campaign last term, when it moved up three spots in the Constructors’ championship to sixth.
But following a string of reliability woes and a stagnant development programme, the team’s top technical brass believes it has eliminated the problems that blighted its early-season promise in 2022.