Zhou Guanyu performed very well at the recent Italian Grand Prix, to claim a point at Alfa Romeo’s all-important home race.
The Chinese driver found himself in a near race-long battle with stand-in Williams driver Nyck de Vries, who sensationally scored points on his Formula 1 debut.
The Alfa Romeo driver had a look at making an overtake several times; however, De Vries was very late on the brakes on a number of occasions and was moving in the braking zone.
This made any attempt to overtake the Dutchman extremely dangerous for Zhou, who prior to Monza hadn’t scored points since the Canadian Grand Prix all the way back in June.
The Chinese driver instead opted to sit behind De Vries to secure a much-needed P10, with points being crucial to the team at Alfa Romeo’s home event.
Zhou was asked by F1TV how it felt to be back in the points, with the driver saying it felt “amazing”.
“It’s amazing, I think it’s the best place to do it for the team, home race,” said Zhou.
“A lot of pressure coming into it because starting top 10, we knew we had the chance of all the races here. It was quite a tough one of course behind the DRS train, the Williams is super-quick on the straight, but very happy to be finally back in the points [for the first time] since Montreal.”
Zhou thinks he did have a chance to finish higher than P10, but that Williams’ strong straight-line speed gave him very little chance of moving up the order.
“Yeah, we had a chance,” admitted Zhou.
“I think there was a few laps we had a good chance.
“He lost the slipstream to [Pierre] Gasly and then Max [Verstappen] was coming and lapped ourselves, so we had to lose a bit then.
“Overall I think it was a good battle, but of course I would rather stay ahead because I think we had a bit more pace, except for on the straight which we all know they (Williams) are super-quick. Happy with the team and I think everyone definitely deserved that, here and in the factory.”
Following on from Zhou’s and De Vries’ near race-long battle, the Williams driver was called into the stewards’ room and awarded with his first reprimand, following erratic driving through the Curva Grande.
The Alfa Romeo driver discussed the matter and explained that the Dutchman was moving “quite late” whilst braking, which made any overtaking attempt dangerous.
“He was moving quite late in the braking, so for myself it was quite difficult to do a divebomb,” Zhou recounted.
“But we have to still understand it because on my side I was of course so focused on the racing, but there was a few times getting quite close so I knew I couldn’t risk it because I knew how much he wanted the points and how much I wanted the points for the team.
“So it was tough to the finish but overall, happy to finish where we were.”
Whilst some drivers and team principals complained about the manner of which the race ended; Zhou was actually pleased that the Italian GP was completed behind the Safety Car.
A late retirement for Daniel Ricciardo saw a tractor needed to recover his car between the two Lesmos.
By the time his MCL36 was lifted into a safe place, there was only a single lap remaining.
The race therefore ended behind the Safety Car, which came as a relief to Zhou after being on Hard tyres.
“I think I would rather have it like this, if I’m honest,” said Zhou.
“It was finally being lucky for once this year, so I’m very happy for that.
“Of course, I think if the race continued, we had the chance to fight for P9, that’s for sure. But with the Safety Car while we were on hard tyres, it’s always you never know how the tyres will be after the restart.
“So we did a brave strategy, stayed out, tried to work on the tyres. So it was a good call and it paid off at the end.”