Sakhir, 19 March 2022 – Alfa Romeo F1 Team ORLEN claimed a place in Q3 at the first time of asking as Valtteri Bottas recorded a remarkable P6 in qualifying for the 2022 Bahrain Grand Prix. Team-mate, Zhou Guanyu, qualified to Q2 on his debut weekend and will start in P15 on the grid, with his best effort in the session sadly invalidated for a track limits infraction.
P6 represents the team's best qualifying performance since the 2019 Belgian Grand Prix, and sets Alfa Romeo F1 Team ORLEN up for the race with the clear objective to bring home a strong result.
Frédéric Vasseur, Team Principal: "Starting our season with a car in Q3 and one in Q2 is a really good outcome and it's a big confidence boost for the whole team. Everyone here and in Hinwil worked really hard to get to tonight in the best possible conditions, but then it was a matter of delivering when it counted – and we did it. We looked strong in FP3, then Valtteri and Zhou produced a really good display in the heat of battle. Valtteri's performance was of the first order and it shows his talent is all there; Zhou didn't let the pressure of his first ever F1 qualifying get to him and cleared Q1 to book a place in the top 15. Still, there's a lot of work ahead of us: there are no points on offer tonight and we need to do our job properly tomorrow to bring home the result we want. However, we can be pleased with our Saturday as it set us in a very good position to fight for the points."
Valtteri Bottas (car number 77):
Alfa Romeo F1 Team ORLEN C42 (Chassis 01/Ferrari)
FP3: 8th / 1:33.733 (21 laps)
Q1: 1:31.919 (6 laps)
Q2: 1:31.717 (6 laps)
Q3: 6th / 1:31.560 (3 laps)
"To be on the third row in our first qualifying together is a big achievement and we need to be satisfied – both me and the team. My session was really smooth and I improved a little bit in every run, which is what you set out to do in qualifying. It's an important moment for us as it shows we can be up here. I am proud of the job everyone did, here and at the factory: we knew we had a chance to be in Q3 but it was good to actually do it when everyone turned up with everything they had. Now we focus on the race: our long run pace looked even better than on the single lap, so we can be in the fight. The top four are probably out of reach for everyone, but it would be nice to have a battle with Mercedes. In any case, this is the start of our journey and I want us to look forward and not back: the objective is to be up here at the flag and bring home good points."
Zhou Guanyu (car number 24):
Alfa Romeo F1 Team ORLEN C42 (Chassis 02/Ferrari)
FP3: 9th / 1:33.880 (18 laps)
Q1: 1:32.493 (6 laps)
Q2: 15th / 1:33.543 (6 laps)
"I am really happy with Q2 on my first race weekend. This was always my initial target and to clear this box in my first race is something that I really wanted after seeing how the car performed in the practice sessions. I was very relaxed this morning as I knew my preparation for tonight had been good, but there was still a bit of pressure as I knew we could have a good result: once I made it to Q2, the pressure was off and I could give everything in the laps I had. Unfortunately, my best attempt was deleted – I saw the replay and it was really close. We lost one place due to that, but we're still in a good position: there are a lot of positives we can take ahead of tomorrow. I am pleased with the progress I have made from one session to the other this weekend: even during qualifying, there was a lot of evolution as the session progressed, so the learning never stops. I don't have a set target for my first race – I want to move forward as I know we were good in race trim during testing, so we have an opportunity to make up places. I know everyone will be watching at home, it's great to have so much support and I want to give everything for them and for the team."