Not the best weekend for the Alfa Romeo F1 team that have to deal with several issues at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
Bottas' performance was compromised by a lack of pace from Saturday which caused him several struggles both during qualifying [P15 and slower than Zhou] and the race, leading him to finish 11th. While teammate Zhou Guanyu had to retire because of a technical issue.
At the end of the race, the Finnish driver said to the media that the nature of the problems on his car was still not very clear to him but suspected that behind his disappearing pace there might be a fundamental issue with some of the new parts he switched to on Saturday.
"I wish I knew, - explained Bottas - it almost feels like something is fundamentally wrong because we were so off the expected laptimes and pace, even Williams were faster than us at the end of the race which is not where our car should be.”
”We changed from the old package to the new package for Saturday, and since then the issue started with the behaviour of the car. We'll have a look, I'm pretty convinced we'll find something.
On Friday, Bottas actually finished one tenth ahead of Zhou in each practice session. However on Saturday morning after swapping to Alfa's new specification, the ex-Mercedes driver was suddenly seven tenths slower than his teammate in FP3 and Q1, and six tenths behind in Q2 as the pair qualified 14th and 15th.
"From Friday to Saturday, it just felt like we lost rear grip, which is a bit strange because with the parts we changed it should have been increasing the rear end. So we need to find out what's gone wrong.
"I had no chance to match Zhou's laptimes today, he was in another league, almost one second faster which for me is quite strange.”
Alfa Romeo's head of trackside engineering Xevi Pujolar after the race explained that it is not clear yet what was the nature of the problems on Bottas' car.
"Since Saturday we started to have some question marks on Valtteri's car," Pujolar said - "And today it was clear that something is wrong. We need to understand what it is at the moment, but we can see that something is not right.”
Pujolar also added that both Bottas and Zhou ran the exact same configuration from Saturday onwards, which reinforced the idea that the issue was just on the Finn's car.
"Both cars are certainly the same configuration, I would say it's the same setup, everything was the same. There's something that was not working as expected."
The Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal is just around the corner, so the team hasn’t much time to find the issue by examined each individual part.
Pujolar says they will try and change as many parts as possible in order to get back to their expected performance.
"Probably what will happen is that we'll have to change as much as possible to fix the problem, but that's the limitation we have got in such a quick turnaround.”
”So, we'll just try to change as much as possible to make sure that we start back with our normal or expected performance."