Bottas makes major admission about his team-mate in Baku

Valtteri Bottas ended the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in P11 after a tough weekend.

Valtteri Bottas has no idea what happened to his pace in Baku last weekend after he was out-qualified by Zhou Guanyu for the first time this year.

Zhou qualified 14th, one position ahead of the Finn after Bottas had narrowly squeezed into Q2, and the young Chinese driver was also running ahead of Bottas for much of the afternoon on Sunday.

In the end, a reliability failure put pay to his running, and Bottas would go on to take P11, but this was little consolation for a really tough weekend at the office for Alfa Romeo.

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The former Mercedes driver, at the moment, cannot explain why the Swiss team’s pace suddenly went missing last weekend.

“I wish I knew. It almost feels like something is fundamentally wrong because we were so off the expected lap times and pace – even Williams were faster than us at the end of the race, which is not where our car should be,” said Bottas.

“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 will find something.

“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.”

Bottas also conceded that he had no answer for Zhou’s pace on Sunday following an impressive showing from the 23-year-old.

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“I had no chance to match Zhou’s lap times today – he was in another league, almost one second faster, which for me is quite strange,” he explained.

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Zhou’s P9 in the first qualifying session was the only time an Alfa Romeo had finished a session in the top 10 all weekend, so there is work to be done in Zurich before this weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix.

“That’s true, just lacking pure pace,” conceded Bottas when asked if the pace simply was not there.

“It was strange because in theory we should have had a quicker race car.

“I don’t know what changed from Friday to Saturday and Sunday because it felt like we lost a lot of performance, especially in my car.

“So, [we] just need to find that out before Montreal.

“It was a bit of a struggle all through the race and for me the big issue today was a lack of rear end, lacking grip [so it’s] a bit strange.”

Fernando Alonso’s seventh-placed finish and Esteban Ocon’s P10 on Sunday saw Alpine leapfrog Alfa Romeo for fifth in the Constructors’ Championship.