Alfa Romeo were left frustrated last weekend at the Hungarian Grand Prix, as the team failed to capitalise on Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu both progressing to Q3.
The Hinwil-based side boasted brilliant pace at the Hungaroring, to the extent where Zhou claimed a career-best fifth on the grid to be the highest starting Ferrari-powered driver.
Bottas was only two places behind in seventh, in what looked set to be a much-needed points haul for the side.
However, it once again wasn’t to be following a miserable opening lap.
Zhou tumbled down the order after a bizarre throttle glitch saw him barely pull away, before he then bumped into Daniel Ricciardo.
Ricciardo in return then went into the back of Pierre Gasly, who took out Alpine team-mate Esteban Ocon.
Zhou was penalised for causing the incident, whilst he went on to finish in a disappointing 16th.
“I was holding the revs before the four lights and I just lost all response from the throttle, so I was starting with zero throttle,” Zhou explained to the media after the race, including RacingNews365.
“It’s very disappointing, but unfortunately, there’s nothing that I can say.
“We need to see in more detail what happened because this is strange and has never happened before at all.
“I tried to recover before the five lights [went out to start the race], tried to go full throttle but nothing was happening.
“My start was a pull-away, it wasn’t actually a start. That’s why you saw my car not moving.
“It is really disappointing as I think it could have been good on lap one after the start and something happened that we have never experienced before.
“I was obviously trying to brake as last as I could to try and gain some positions back [at Turn 1] but then partly due to the dirty air of the cars ahead, unfortunately, I locked up into them.
“But my race was over after the line.”
The race wasn’t much better for Bottas, who was overtaken by Lance Stroll on the opening lap.
Stroll’s overtake led to a discussion with the FIA though, as the Aston Martin driver overtook Bottas whilst completely off the circuit.
The Canadian put all four wheels beyond the white line at Turn 4, as he made his way past Bottas.
“The Aston overtook me outside the track, turn four”, Bottas quickly pointed out over the team radio.
Despite Bottas’ complaints, Stroll wasn’t penalised for the incident after Alfa Romeo reported it.
“We reported it but we were told that was okay,” said Alfa Romeo’s head of trackside engineering Xevi Pujolar, following a question by RaceFans. “That was it, we had to leave it, we left it there.”
Bottas went on to finish 12th, marking another race without points for Alfa Romeo.
The result has left them ninth in the Constructors’ Championship, despite quite clearly having a car capable of running amongst the top 10.