The exhilaration of the Japanese Grand Prix took a dramatic turn this weekend as drivers Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu found themselves ensnared in a whirlwind of incidents, some of which culminated in race-ending consequences.
Bottas' Brief Yet Tumultuous Run
Starting from the 16th position, Bottas wasted no time asserting himself in the fray. As the race commenced, he found himself vying for a lead, shoulder to shoulder with Esteban Ocon and Alex Albon.
Heading into Turn 1, this triumvirate of racers became a sight of tension as they went three-wide, leading to a disastrous collision. “I had a great start actually off the line,” Bottas mused on the short-lived race, “I was between two cars going into Turn 1.
The car on the right started squeezing to the left so then, in the end, there was not space, so there was a collision, and I had a puncture on the front right”. But that wasn't the end of Bottas's misfortunes. Detailing the fateful incident with Sargeant that ended his Grand Prix run, Bottas revealed, “We tried [to continue], but there was too much damage.
The car was undriveable. Some damage to the suspension, also had a hole in the sidepod, so it was not really driveable. So, unlucky, with Sargeant obviously. [I] just tried to make the move from the outside, but he probably locked up and ended up taking me out”.
Zhou's Steadfast Resolve Amid Setbacks
On the other end of the spectrum, Zhou Guanyu, despite facing early challenges, demonstrated resilience by crossing the finish line at 13th. Though not the result he might have hoped for, Zhou's ability to continue after the chaotic initial laps was commendable.
Sharing his perspective on the Alfa Romeo team's potential performance at the upcoming Sprint weekend in Qatar, Zhou remarked, “We need to see obviously every track, and this weekend from my side, I made the one mistake in qualifying on the curb – and with the traffic, which we had in that period, compromised our weekend.
But let’s say the pace in general, the speed is a bit more back to what we are supposed to be. Just fighting from our side for P10 and P15-ish”. While the Japanese Grand Prix may have been a rollercoaster for these two drivers, the anticipation for what the next race holds is palpable. Racing enthusiasts worldwide will undoubtedly be tuning in to see if fortunes shift in Qatar.