Zhou recalls best advice from 'great teammate' Bottas


Alfa Romeo F1 rookie Guanyu Zhou says Valtteri Bottas is one of the "nicest" teammates he's ever worked with during his motorsport career, who also gave him some precious advice ahead of his first F1 qualifying session.

Alfa has opted this season to blend Bottas' vast experience with Zhou youth and so far, the association has proved fruitful, with China's first ever F1 driver keeping himself out of trouble and improving with each passing race while collaborating well with the Finn for the overall benefit of their team.

"A very great teammate," was how Zhou described Bottas on a recent Beyond The Grid podcast.

"He's so nice. He's probably one of the nicest teammates I worked [with]. The last time I had a teammate that nice is probably Callum [Ilott, in Formula 2].

"Valtteri is great because with all his experience, he was able to not just answer all questions, sometimes he was even asking me, 'How do you feel? Do you have something you want to know even more about?'

"I remember that very well, in Bahrain he said, 10 minutes before the pit lane opened, before we put the helmet on, he was actually asking me, 'Do you have anything [you want to ask?]', because he knew how nervous I was.

"Since then, we've been working along so well together, and also nice [that] we have a very similar driving style, so [on] the feedback of the car we [are] always quite equally matched.

"For the direction of the team, it's very great for development. So far [it] has been very good, and we always try to maximise all the potential."

Zhou also recalled how Bottas helped him in Bahrain get rid of the butterflies ahead of his very first F1 qualifying session.

"He said to me, 'This is your first qualifying session, and then you have to just take it step by step. Don't think you have to give it everything on first try. If you can't do it, you still have another try to do it.'

"It just kind of calmed me down," he remembered. "And also, for example [in] Baku, a quarter of the way through the season, he was like, 'Here you have to just go to the finish. It's the first thing you need to do in Baku'.

"That was before the race, he was like, 'Just go to the finish, you never know where you will finish'.

"Things like that just motivate [me], and just help me a lot to [become] better."

Zhou's working relationship with Bottas has inevitably led the 23-year-old to sample the Finn's renowned homemade espresso on race weekends in the Alfa hospitality unit.

"Imola was the first time I tried his 'homemade' coffee in the motorhome," Zhou recounted.

"I [didn't] drink coffee before this year, and was never drinking coffee before arriving in F1.

"But then with all these early mornings I have to do – not on track, but media activities and all the other things – I have to stay awake, and that's the thing.

"I [have a coffee] also before some races and qualifying sessions, just to help me to reset myself. I love coffee quite a lot now, but I'm not in the level of Valtteri, nowhere near!"

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