Zhou Guanyu found himself starting from the pit-lane due to a daring decision made by the Alfa Romeo racing team.
This turn of events came after Alfa Romeo opted to make critical set-up changes and alter power unit components during parc ferme conditions, throwing a wrench into Zhou’s race plans.
Initially slated to start in the 19th position following Lance Stroll’s unfortunate withdrawal, Zhou’s fortunes took a drastic turn when Alfa Romeo chose to disregard parc ferme regulations by overhauling his car’s set-up.
The decision to replace crucial power unit elements, including the Internal Combustion Engine, Turbo-charger, MGU-H, and Control Electronics, has not only shaken up the grid but also pushed Zhou Guanyu beyond the season’s allocation limits for these essential components.
One component change that falls within the allowable limits is the installation of a new exhaust system.
This alteration ensures that Zhou remains compliant with the regulations for exhaust components.
Formula 1 regulations explicitly prohibit teams from making any set-up changes once the qualifying session has commenced.
The penalty for breaching this rule is a forced pit-lane start for the affected driver.
While Zhou began the race in the pit lane, he did manage to fight his way through a chaotic race to finish in P12.
While out of the points and 83 seconds behind race winner Carlos Sainz, Zhou will have been pleased with his position given the team’s challenges this season.
Zhou’s teammate Valtteri Bottas didn’t finish the race, although he did manage to avoid causing a late safety car incident by escaping down a slip road.
With Yuki Tsunoda, Esteban Ocon and George Russell also failing to finish, and Lance Stroll not starting, there were only 15 finishers in Singapore.