Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake undertook the first-ever qualifying session under the new Sprint Race format, with Valtteri Bottas claiming a spot in Q2 and setting the 14th fastest time. Zhou Guanyu was agonisingly close to joining his team-mate in the top 15, but fell 0.02s short of the cut and finished 16th.
Qualifying was a chaotic affair, especially in Q1, with several red flags disrupting the flow of the session. A similarly eventful race would create opportunities that the team will need to exploit as it aims to make up ground.
The race weekend will continue tomorrow, with the standalone Shootout Qualifying and Sprint race bringing the action to the Baku City Circuit.
Alessandro Alunni Bravi, Team Representative: "Both drivers delivered some good laps on a day in which the track caught out some of our competitors, and I think we maximised what we could get on the occasion. Valtteri did a good job, with clean laps, and was able to make it into Q2; unfortunately, Zhou missed out for a tiny margin. These positions reflect our potential on this day, and it's clear we need to work hard to keep improving our overall package. However, we feel we have a decent chance to bring home points on Sunday: this track can produce very unpredictable races and we will need to be ready to grab any opportunity that may arise. Tomorrow, as well, we get a new chance in the Shootout and Sprint: it'll be interesting to see how this event will unfold. We will keep fighting to bring home a good result for our colleagues back in Hinwil."
Valtteri Bottas (car number 77):
Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake C43 (Chassis 02/Ferrari)
FP1: 13th / 1:44.010 (23 laps)
Q1: 1:42.582 (11 laps)
Q2: 14th / 1:42.259 (8 laps)
"We felt more competitive than in Melbourne and Jeddah, which is a positive step in the right direction, even if it wasn't enough to make it into Q3 yet. The setup felt good, and I was feeling comfortable with the car, so there is the potential to build on that in the remainder of the weekend. Today has been a pretty intense day, with just one practice session and then heading straight into qualifying, which has been quite interesting. I think there are still a lot of opportunities for us to take with a long weekend ahead, so let's see what we can come up with tomorrow."
Zhou Guanyu (car number 24):
Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake C43 (Chassis 04/Ferrari)
FP1: 10th / 1:43.748 (23 laps)
Q1: 16th / 1:42.642 (11 laps)
"We were really close to Q2, which would have been a better result, and it's a bit upsetting to miss out for just a couple of hundredths, but that's how racing goes sometimes. The car felt pretty good this morning, during practice, but I couldn't get the same feeling in qualifying. Overall, it's been a tricky afternoon for me, as I struggled for grip throughout the session: still, I feel we can unlock more performance from our car ahead of tomorrow, and we will be working hard to put ourselves back in the game ahead of the Shootout and the Sprint."