Bottas hopes Alfa ‘in a better place’ after strong FP2

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Valtteri Bottas says it was only practice but the Finn nevertheless hopes that his strong performance in FP2 on Friday will see Alfa Romeo “in a better place” in Sunday’s Mexican Grand Prix.

Bottas concluded his opening day of running at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez with the fourth fastest time, just 0.269s behind Red Bull pacesetter Max Verstappen.

Friday’s second practice was the only session in which Bottas took part as Alfa had entrusted his C43 to rookie Theo Pourchaire in FP1.

However, the highly rated Frenchman found himself on the receiving end of a brake-by-wire issue that ruined his outing, the F2 charger failing to achieve a single flying lap in the session.

Fortunately, the problem was solved by the time FP2 rolled around which allowed Bottas to enjoy a clean, incident-free 60 minutes of running and preparation.

“We found the issue,” the Finn explained. “Obviously it was a shame that he missed an important session for himself.

“Found the issue but there was not time to fix it during P1, so at least going forwards we should be okay.

“It was a clean session, which is important when you miss a practice session. Got plenty of laps. Actually pretty good feeling, overall, with the car and found a good rhythm.

“I was quite pleased with that one session, but it is only practice, and now we need to focus on ourselves, my driving and also set up to find more tomorrow.”

Although Bottas played down his P4 flyer, it still gave him hope that Alfa Romeo – which has struggled almost all season in the lower tier of F1’s midfield and which currently sits P8 in the championship – is heading into a points-paying race.

“It gives me hope, definitely,” he said. “We feel like we’re in a better place than in Austin for now.

“It’s a short lap, so that’s why gaps are small, but yeah, I’m optimistic for this weekend.”

On the other side of the Alfa garage, Zhou Guanyu was also optimistic over his team’s potential in Mexico after clocking in 13th in both of Friday’s sessions.

“It was a solid start to our weekend, the car felt good today,” he commented. “We tried different things to extract the potential we missed in Austin and everything seemed to come together.

“I do not think we are too far off the top ten, but the key in qualifying and the race will be to get everything right when it matters.”

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