Valtteri Bottas is delighted to see his Alfa Romeo teammate Zhou Guanyu‘s progress since his rookie season in Formula 1, and is expecting more from the Chinese driver.
Zhou came into his rookie year with some doubters but impressed many by scoring points in his maiden Grand Prix in Bahrain and dazzling in the rain at the 2022 Canadian GP, finishing eighth.
“It’s been nice to see his development curve has been pretty steep from the beginning of last year,” Bottas said exclusively to Total Motorsport.com. “He became almost like a different driver in a way.
“[He’s become] much more confident in his driving, feedback, racing, and qualifying, so he had a good rookie season overall.
“He made very few mistakes and got some points as well. No doubt he’s going to get way more points this year, and he’s going to be a good teammate to battle with for sure.
“But the main thing is we will be able to work well together like last year. So I’m looking forward to it.”
Mentor role for rookie season
Bottas’ influence as team leader at Alfa Romeo has also seen him become a mentor for Zhou, particularly during his rookie year, to help him find his feet in the sport.
An example of this came in the Brazilian GP Sprint Race at Interlagos in 2022, with Bottas telling Zhou to attack Nicholas Latifi into Turn 10.
“Last year for sure, yes, because I know how difficult it is to jump into Formula 1, having all the pressure in your first season,” explained Bottas. “Whenever there was a chance, I tried to help.
“But there’s the team interest for me. I want us to score as many points as possible because, in the end, the constructors’ championship is so important.
“So if there’s a chance for sure, I’ll still try to guide him. But it just comes naturally because I want him to do well.”
Zhou has proven he belongs in F1
Although his future in the sport remains uncertain long-term, Bottas believes Zhou belongs in F1 and has no concerns about his teammate.
This is in spite of some drivers, such as Mick Schumacher and Yuki Tsunoda, having a harder second season after promising rookie campaigns.
“I think he has been proven throughout last year that he belongs in F1, and obviously, this year is another test for the driver,” said Bottas.
“[But] I have no concerns, [he’ll] be fine.”