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Guanyu Zhou

F1 debutant Zhou: It's nice to finally drive the car!

F1's only 2022 rookie, Guanyu Zhou, is pleased to finally get behind the wheel of the Alfa Romeo C42, and also spoke of the distinct handling characteristics of the new generation of F1 cars.

Bottas Barcelona
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To news overview © RN365/Michael Potts

Guanyu Zhou says it was nice to drive the Alfa Romeo C42 for the first time at Barcelona's pre-season test, as he seeks to get some valuable time behind the wheel before his F1 race debut at next month's Bahrain Grand Prix.

After sitting out the first day of testing on Wednesday as teammate Valtteri Bottas and reserve driver Robert Kubica took to the track instead, Zhou finally got his first taste of the C42 on Thursday afternoon.

Though mechanical issues on Wednesday had restricted Alfa to just 32 laps on day one, Zhou put those woes behind him on Thursday, logging 71 of Alfa's 92 tours to complete a full race distance.

The Chinese, who makes the jump from Formula 2, talked up his day's experience afterwards.

"It's nice to finally drive it," said Zhou. "[I] felt the changes so much more compared to what I've experienced in the past F1 cars.

"It's very good that we not just drove it for the first time, we also did quite a lot of laps, and went through all the programmes. That's what was missing yesterday, so that's very important."

Zhou was back at the wheel for Friday morning's session, but suffered a spin and another stoppage before lunch.

All F1 teams struggle with 'porpoising'

Meanwhile, the new-for-2022 technical regulations have changed the handling characteristics of the cars, with many teams and drivers complaining of their vehicles pitching up and down at high speed – a phenomenon known as porpoising.

"I think one thing that's very clear is that the car is bottoming out a bit; [it's] a bit more stiff. I think we can see, visually, from outside, a lot of cars will be bouncing around a little bit more," Zhou said of the effect the new regulations will have on the 2022 cars.

"Going through the kerbs is a bit more aggressive, and of course, the car, with 18-inch wheels and a completely new chassis, you have to change a little bit your driving [style], and how you want to set up the car."

But despite the new generation of cars providing a new set of challenges for teams and drivers to overcome, Zhou said he felt confident in his team's ability to iron out any problems.

"In the car, you feel [you're] bouncing around a little bit, but [from] the first impression of driving around at a good speed, I felt like nothing was really strange or crazy," added Zhou.

"That's something that many teams are suffering with, and this is the first year of this new era of cars, and it takes many years to get it perfect.

"I think the [Bahrain Grand Prix] will be interesting, but there will be plenty of meetings and upgrades for us going into the first race."

Also interesting:

With F1 pre-season testing getting underway in Barcelona this week, our journalists Dieter Rencken, Mike Seymour and Thomas Maher look ahead to what to expect.

F1 2022 Barcelona pre-season test RN365 News dossier

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