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Why Bottas wasn't confident heading to Bahrain GP grid

Valtteri Bottas made a dream debut for Alfa Romeo in Bahrain, starting and finishing sixth to mark his new team's best result since 2019. But it could have been even better for the Finn had he not dropped to 14th after a poor start.

Valtteri Bottas says a series of poor practice starts meant he was not confident heading to the grid to start the Bahrain Grand Prix. Starting in a fine sixth place, Bottas dropped down to 14thon the opening lap after struggling with traction, and revealed post-race that he had spent the formation lap worrying about his getaway. "I was not so confident going to the grid, because 50 per cent of the starts we had in practice and testing were bad, so it's an area we need to work on," Bottas told media, including RacingNews365.com . "I just had big wheelspin and cooked the rear tyres, and was still wheel-spinning in third gear – then the first lap I was sliding around and was a bit of a sitting duck. "[The problem] is a mechanical thing. Sometimes we have this vibration on the clutch. It happens 50 per cent of the time and, when it happens, it's quite easy to break the traction, so it's on the [to-do] list, and we're working on it."

Alfa Romeo target Haas going forward

Bottas finished the race just behind Kevin Magnussen, and revealed that Alfa Romeo are looking to overhaul Haas at the head of F1's midfield. "Having both cars in the top 10 is a lot better than [Alfa Romeo] have been used to in recent years," added Bottas. "I think the next target for us is Haas, they have a strong car – Mercedes, Red Bull, Ferrari, they're a bit further away. "But at least we're almost there and best of the rest of the moment, so it's not a bad starting point."

Bottas hails rookie teammate Zhou's debut

Bottas's rookie teammate, Zhou Guanyu, also scored points in Bahrain, coming home in 10th place, and the Finn paid tribute to his new partner's solid debut. "To get a point [on debut] is a big achievement, so it was really good to see. I think he had a good race," said Bottas, who also hailed Zhou's work ethic. "He's a super nice guy and he's really willing to learn, and actually, when he gets feedback, when he looks at the data, he can always make a step forward. "He's a quick learner, so I'm expecting a big improvement from Guanyu over the year."

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RESULTS 2024 F1 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix - Free Practice 3