“Really happy with qualifying session in general,” Zhou said. “Not just that we did a good lap, every session we were there fighting for top 10.
“Good car for the team and really happy obviously with that final lap. Not much more mistakes I can offer that lap, there was a few track limit deleted, that just shows how much I was pushing. But I feel comfortably so that’s why I’m pushing on the limit.”
Amid its tough opening to the campaign, last time out at Silverstone Alfa Romeo introduced an upgrade package intended to improve its C43 car in high-speed corners.
Although Zhou is confident Alfa Romeo continued to optimise its new parts this weekend, he contends the slower-speed nature of the Hungaroring was the biggest attributing factor behind the Hinwil-based squad’s dramatic improvement.
With the trial running of the Alternative Tyre Allocation (ATA) format meaning the Soft tyre only became available in Q3, Zhou also revealed he widely expected Alfa Romeo to take a step back in the final segment.
“I think to be honest we definitely executed a little bit more the potential of this package,” he addressed. “The other thing is it’s a different track layout so this one suits us better than the others.
“On the other hand, it’s good to be competitive on all three compounds. We definitely think we would struggle a bit more in Q3 because the Soft compound usually goes into the advantage of the big three teams but it wasn’t the case today.”
Zhou will be separated from team-mate Bottas on the grid by the lead Ferrari of Charles Leclerc, with the sister SF-23 of Carlos Sainz starting behind both Alfa Romeos after dropping out in Q2.
Meanwhile, the secondary Red Bull of Sergio Perez was only able to qualify ninth and will also line up behind the Alfa Romeo pair.
While Zhou predicts that the Ferraris and Perez will be too strong come Sunday, the Chinese racer asserts he will battle hard as long as his race isn’t compromised.
“If there’s a Red Bull or Ferrari behind I guess I’m not being very strong on tyres because realistically they have a longer race craft,” he acknowledged. “If we can fight we will definitely fight for that without losing too much.
“The main target is to try to be the best of the rest. McLaren seems to be very strong, second quickest car after two weekends so let’s see if we can keep up with them.”