March 26th, 2022

2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix - Saturday

Alfa Romeo F1 Team ORLEN had another competitive showing during qualifying for the 2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, with Valtteri Bottas setting the 8th fastest time and Zhou Guanyu in 13th. In a long evening of action, with a red flag for an accident to Mick Schumacher interrupting the session for a lengthy period of time, the two Alfa Romeo F1 Team ORLEN drivers kept their cool and delivered solid performances to set themselves up in a good position for tomorrow’s Grand Prix.

Frédéric Vasseur, Team Principal: “First and foremost, the important news from the evening are about Mick Schumacher being ok after a very big accident. Full credit to the FIA for making these the safest cars in F1 history. As for us, we delivered a good performance that confirms our Bahrain result was not a fluke: both Valtteri and Zhou did well and we can see progress already compared to last week, which means we can expect to be in the fight to bring home points with both cars tomorrow. It’s going to be a long race and we’ve seen tonight that this track doesn’t forgive any mistake: there are a lot of challenges, but also a lot of potential opportunities to take and it will be up to us to bring home a good result.”

Valtteri Bottas (car number 77):
Alfa Romeo F1 Team ORLEN C42 (Chassis 01/Ferrari)
FP3: 5th / 1:30.030 (22 laps)
Q1: 1:29.683 (7 laps)
Q2: 1:29.404 (8 laps)
Q3: 8th / 1:29.183 (7 laps)

“I am pleased to be in Q3, especially with our performance: we were very consistent, made good progress in each session and got a good spot on the grid for the race. The main thing today, though, is that Mick is ok after the heavy shunt. We hope to see him back in a race car as soon as possible. Coming into the weekend, we weren’t sure whether the track layout would suit us, so to have a solid qualifying as a team is positive. I was perhaps hoping to be a couple of places higher, but everyone was so close: we stuck to our plan, which was to only use one set of tyres for Q3, and by the end there was nothing left. Still, we delivered some good laps and I feel we are definitely in the fight that will be outside the top two teams. We can take the challenge to everyone around us tomorrow and I am looking forward to what will be an interesting race. We need a good start – we have been working a lot on them here and they feel better already – we need to keep position on lap one and then take any opportunity that may come from there on.”

Zhou Guanyu (car number 24):
Alfa Romeo F1 Team ORLEN C42 (Chassis 02/Ferrari)
FP3: 13h / 1:30.946 (20 laps)
Q1: 1:29.978 (11 laps)
Q2: 13th / 1:29.819 (6 laps)

“Before I look at my performance, I am relieved to see both Nicholas and Mick being fine after their crashes: this is the most important thing. I am very happy with my performance this evening, especially as my expectations coming here were quite conservative: this is a relatively new track for me, it’s so quick and it was the first time I drove an F1 car on a street circuit, so to go to Q2 and have a realistic shot at Q3 is a very positive feeling. I improved from session to session throughout the weekend and that’s the important thing: the red flag in Q2 compromised our plans and, in the end, I was left with one set of tyres, but I am happy with 13th. This is a challenging track, you need to push to the limit and you’re on a very thin edge between a great lap and a mistake: to have a clean qualifying session here as a rookie is really good, and to be closer to my team-mate and the top guys is even better. As for tomorrow, let’s see: the race could be chaotic, if last year’s is anything to go by. I’ll need to keep out of trouble and see how much progress I can make, but I think points are realistic.”