Zhou delights fans with top ten spot on Shanghai Sprint grid

© XPB 

Stake F1 Team KICK Sauber was able to celebrate a successful Sprint qualifying session for the Chinese GP at Shanghai International Circuit with both cars making it through to the final Sprint shootout for the first time.

Valtteri Bottas will line up on tomorrow's grid in ninth place, while home favourite will be starting from tenth after receiving huge cheers from Chinese fans after the Sprint showdown.

"It felt great to be in SQ3," said the 24-year old, who hails from Shanghai. "I’m happy with the day, with two cars in SQ3, and the fans have been sensational.

"The laps kept coming together in SQ1 through SQ2," he continued. "There was a lot of potential in the car but in the end, in the rain in SQ3, we only had one lap to get the best possible outcome.

"I was just trying to get a lap onboard, even though everyone was struggling so much with the grip," he acknowledged, adding that the weather will also play an important role in tomorrow's race.

"It’ll be a sprint from the lights to the finish," he said of his prospects for tomorrow. "The guys we are fighting for the points will be strong, but we stand with a chance and we’re ready to go for it.”

"Points tomorrow will only be for the top eight, but we’re taking this step by step: we put two cars in the top ten today, and we will give everything tomorrow."

Zhou hopes to maintain his momentum with another successful qualifying on Saturday afternoon which would set up him nicely for Sunday's GP. "I can’t wait for the rest of the weekend," he commented. "Everything can still happen!"

“Today has been a positive day for us," agreed Sauber team representative Alessandro Alunni Bravi. "Not just for having both cars in SQ3, but also for the performance shown on the medium compound in dry conditions in SQ1.

"We’re excited to go racing and give back to the Chinese fans that have shown us tremendous support and love already throughout the weekend," he continued.

"We'll keep our heads down and focus on the remainder of the weekend. Our job is not finished here, but to gain confirmation of our ability to fight for points is reassuring."

"The team has done a great job," Bottas added. "With the extra support from the Chinese fans, we aim to be fighting for points in the Sprint and deliver a qualifying performance to this level tomorrow.

“Today has been a great day for the team, both cars in the top ten is how we want to start a race weekend" he said. "I’m truly happy for Zhou and the Chinese fans – getting into SQ3 at your home race is special."

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