Zhou Guanyu says that his first time competing in an F1 Sprint event proved to be especially challenging for him as a rookie in the sport. The Alfa Romeo driver started the Saturday race during the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix weekend from 14th on the grid, but soon found himself out of the running following a collision with the AlphaTauri of Pierre Gasly on the opening lap. Gasly was able to make it back to the pits and returned to the field, whilst Zhou's crash resulted in a DNF for the Chinese driver and brought out the Safety Car in the process. "[It was] quite disappointing for the race to end up like that, because I think, as a team, we had a good potential this weekend," Zhou told media, including RacingNews365.com , following the event.
Why the Sprint was "difficult" for Zhou as a rookie
Whilst Zhou has experience of Sprint races in Formula 2, this marked his debut in the format as an F1 driver. He admits that he found the change to the weekend schedule tough to adjust to, with just one practice session held before Friday's qualifying, and then a second hour of practice ahead of Saturday's Sprint. "It gave me as a rookie [an] extra challenge, because it's quite difficult," Zhou explained. "You just have one FP session, and you're straight to [the] qualifying session, and then you have the whole race weekend started like that. You don't have enough track time to be getting into the rhythm. "But, you only have three races like that [during the season], so it's the same for everyone, just as a rookie [it's] an extra challenge."
How changing conditions had an impact
The weekend at Imola was affected by changing weather, with heavy rain falling at times on Friday and Sunday. Saturday, though, played host to mostly dry conditions, so Zhou does not think that this had that much of an impact on his Sprint. "[The] conditions are actually not bad," he said after the shortened race. "This weather is much nicer than [on Friday], so it's actually easier because yesterday was quite tricky, with damp conditions." Zhou will have to wait a little while to have a second opportunity in the Sprint, with the next of the three events taking place this year due to be held at the Austrian Grand Prix in July.