It’s a new era for Alfa Romeo as they have a brand-new driver line-up as they look to improve on last season.
At the end of 2021, we said goodbye to Kimi Raikkonen who retired from the sport alongside Antonio Giovinazzi who moved to Formula E.
Valtteri Bottas joins Alfa Romeo this season after five seasons at World Champions Mercedes. This move is one that many expected when Russell was hotly tipped to take a seat at Mercedes, but it is also one that many people are excited about.
He is joined at the team by Gunazyu Zhou, who makes the step up from Formula 2. He finished third in the F2 Championship last season as well as winning the F3 Asian Championship and being a test driver for Alpine.
Something that will benefit Zhou this season is that every driver on the grid is having to adapt to a brand new car. While experience will count, old habits may make the switch more challenging for some, and the clean slate for Zhou might give him a slight edge on some.
For Bottas, this will be an interesting time for him. He will be going from one of the strongest teams in the sport to a team that has been traditionally down the back of the field. However, Bottas is a very talented driver and is very underrated by many and will be a very solid driver to the team and maybe even be enough to help them push further up the grid.
At the pre-season shakedown in Barcelona, Bottas and Zhou began to get a feel for their new car, and when they arrived in Bahrain for the official pre-season test, the team looked to be in a decent place.
Bottas ended the opening days running in sixth place, with Zhou down in 14th, with the pair completing 120 laps between them.
The second day of testing was much more of a struggle for the team, with running being limited for the team and they found themselves down in 11th place with Bottas and 15th with Zhou at the end of the day.
The final day of testing looked promising for the team, with Bottas going 6th fastest and Zhou 11th fastest.
However, we do have to remember the usual caveat that this is testing and we don’t know what programmes or plans any of the teams were on.
On paper, however, Alfa Romeo looked to have made a decent amount of progress and might actually be contenders for points this season.
I think Alfa’s success this season will be depending on how quickly Bottas and Zhou adapt to life at the team. Bottas brings race-winning experience and should really help the team out going forward.
Zhou brings a huge financial boost for the team and in the long term, this will be good for them.
While he is a pay driver, he has been consistent in Formula 2 and the experience of fighting in a pack of drivers will hopefully give him the confidence needed to challenge for points.