After securing his first points of the year in Australia, Alfa Romeo driver Zhou Guanyu is hopeful the C43 can become a more consistent car as the year continues.
Zhou has performed solidly in the first three rounds of the season, finishing ahead of his experienced teammate Valtteri Bottas in Jeddah and Australia.
The Chinese driver also enjoys a 2-1 advantage over his Finnish teammate in their qualifying head-to-head, further emphasising his improvements since last year.
However, despite Zhou’s progress as a driver, Alfa Romeo has failed to replicate its impressive performance from the season opener in Bahrain.
The Swiss-based team has been quickly caught up by the likes of Alpine, McLaren and even Haas – lacking the pace to qualify for Q3 or fight for points without others retiring.
Speaking after the Australian GP, Zhou discussed the positives and negatives for the team:
“I was happy with the progress we made because we were starting at the back of the grid today.
“The car was a lot racier compared to yesterday, so I feel like I was able to fight in the mix with guys around me.”
“For us as a team, we haven’t been the most consistent midfield team so far.
“But there is plenty of work [taking place, so] I’m sure we can get over it.
“Working through this reasonably long April break, hopefully, we come back stronger, to be able to keep fighting with the others.”
With Audi already making its mark on Alfa Romeo (i.e signing Andreas Seidl as CEO), there has been plenty of optimising surrounding the Swiss outfit.
However, the team’s downward trajectory from the end of 2022 seems to have continued into the start of this season.
It would be a stretch to write off Alfa Romeo’s C43, especially considering they have scored points in two of the first three rounds.
However, the team currently sits 8th in the standings and only a few points ahead of Williams, who – for the first time in many years – could be consistent contenders for points.
Whilst Alfa’s points haul is nothing especially alarming, a double Q1 elimination in Australia is a warning of the competitiveness of F1’s midfield in 2023.
Aside from a struggling AlphaTauri – who have still managed to secure a point – Alfa Romeo is surrounded by teams that have arguably shown more pace in the opening three rounds.
A sample size of three races is hardly conclusive, but it seems safe to say they will not enjoy the same points haul they managed to secure at the beginning of last season.
Valtteri Bottas’ form will also need to improve to compete with the likes of Nico Hulkenberg in the midfield as the team prepares to introduce updates in Baku.