Valtteri Bottas says he has more faith in Alfa Romeo to prolong its competitiveness throughout the 2023 Formula 1 season than it did last year.
Alfa Romeo took advantage of the change in technical regulations for last season and was one of the only teams at the weight limit to surge out of the blocks early in the year.
Bottas accumulated 46 points within the first nine races of 2022 but only a further three followed across the remaining 13 rounds as Alfa Romeo struggled to match its rival’s developments.
However, with several teams planning to bring significant updates to the next couple of races, the ex-Mercedes driver is confident the Italian side is in a much better place to remain competitive over the course of this campaign.
“I think we are in a much better state than last year,” he expressed.
“Last year the amount of issues we had to start with were definitively time consuming of the resources we had for development, it was more like patching up things rather than putting new things on the car and now I feel it’s a different situation.
“We do have more people, physically making the parts, and we know that we can get them way quicker than last year and that’s why I’m quite confident that we can keep up with the development race. We cannot control the other teams, but we know we are in a better place than last year.”
Although Bottas managed to secure four points courtesy of a stellar drive to eighth in Bahrain, neither Alfa Romeo car has made it into Q3 at the opening two race weekends.
But the Finn is optimistic that the introduction of new parts on the team’s C43 this weekend could enable him to reach the top 10 shootout in qualifying for the first time this season.
“I really think we definitively have a chance to be in Q3, as we’ve been close to it a couple of times and we actually have some new bits in the car this weekend, that will give us a bit of lap time,” he commented.
Bottas has revealed that Alfa Romeo’s first planned upgrade for this weekend intends to improve the car’s balance, with the Hinwil-based outfit having more in the pipeline for the races ahead.
“I think the upgrade we’ve brought here will further improve the car balance, so that’s good,” he explained. “There’s also something in the pipeline for a few races ahead, so we know what’s coming, there’s a bit of a plan and it looks like we’ll be able to achieve some decent steps.
Bottas was unable to match his team-mate Zhou Guanyu over one lap in Saudi Arabia last time out and then suffered a dismal race to trail home last of the classified runners in 18th place.
Baffled by his lacklustre pace, Bottas attributed his poor Sunday performance to picking up floor damage early on from an incident on the opening lap.
The 10-time F1 race winner states that the team have since identified the issue on his car, giving him added confidence that he can produce an improved showing this weekend.
“We found the issue in my car, in Saudi, that actually gives me more confidence because if we didn’t find anything, that would have been not good!”
Zhou, meanwhile, asserts that minor differences will be the determining factor in Alfa Romeo fighting for the lower end of the points.
“I mean, it’s very similar to, let’s say, where they are with the McLarens,” Zhou added. “I think we are just fighting for the backfoot of the points.
“It’s clear there are three or four teams clearly ahead of the rest – but then I think from P8 downwards it is very tight. Everybody can be grabbing these final points finishes – which is the aim, or the target, realistically.
“I feel like in Jeddah we were really close in Q3, also the race pace, running top ten most of the race before the pit-stop, and then passing into a trickier window. So, I think we can still fight for it. And we’re not, you know, too far away from this. So it’s just the little details that can really make the difference in the midfield.