Zhou Guanyu has revealed the best piece of advice that Valtteri Bottas gave him ahead of his F1 debut.
The Chinese driver – who is the only rookie on the 2022 grid – formed an all-new line-up at Alfa Romeo alongside the Finn, who has been racing in the sport since 2013 and achieved 10 wins during his five-year stint with Mercedes.
Zhou has enjoyed working with Bottas, who he credits as being one of the "nicest" teammates he has had in his career.
"[He's] a very great teammate," Zhou told the Beyond The Grid podcast.
"He's so nice. He's probably one of the nicest teammates I worked [with]. The last time I had a teammate that nice is probably Callum [Ilott, in Formula 2].
"Valtteri is great because with all his experience, he was able to not just answer all [my] questions, sometimes he was even asking me, 'How do you feel? Do you have something you want to know even more about?'"
Zhou praises Bottas' approach
Zhou found Bottas' approach particularly helpful ahead of his first Formula 1 race in Bahrain.
"I remember that very well, in Bahrain he said, 10 minutes before the pit lane opened, before we put the helmet on, he was actually asking me, 'Do you have anything [you want to ask?]', because he knew how nervous I was," the 23-year-old said.
"It's your debut in Formula 1. Since then, we've been working along so well together, and [it's] also nice [that] we have a very similar driving style, so [on] the feedback of the car we [are] always quite equally matched.
"For the direction of the team, it's very great for development. So far [it] has been very good, and we always try to maximise all the potential."
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The best advice Bottas has given Zhou
When asked about the best piece of advice that Bottas has given him, Zhou again recalled what the Finn said at the season-opening event.
Zhou explained: "He said to me, 'This is your first qualifying session, and then you have to just take it step by step. Don't think you have to give it everything on first try. If you can't do it, you still have another try to do it.'
"It just kind of calmed me down. And also, for example [in] Baku, a quarter of the way through the season, he was like, 'Here you have to just go to the finish. It's the first thing you need to do in Baku'.
"That was before the race, he was like, 'Just go to the finish, you never know where you will finish'.
"Things like that just motivate [me], and just help me a lot to [become] better."
Bottas' complimentary words for Zhou
Bottas has been similarly complimentary about Zhou, having particularly praised his performance over the Azerbaijan Grand Prix weekend, where Zhou qualified ahead of the Finn on the grid.
"It was obviously his biggest struggle in Baku, but I was able to, on Friday, match his pace," Zhou continued.
"I think [it's something] everyone is happy to see, also him, because then we really can push each other to find this final few tenths where we have our full potential in the car.
"I think [that] weekend was a very strong performance for me, and [I'm] just very happy to continue working that way. But then [I] wouldn't be there without his help, and I think we are very good teammates."
Zhou has even found himself trying the coffee that Bottas is such a big fan of.
"Imola was the first time I tried his 'homemade' coffee in the motorhome," Zhou admitted.
"I [didn't] drink coffee before this year, and was never drinking coffee before arriving in F1.
"But then with all these early mornings I have to do – not on track, but media activities and all the other things – I have to stay awake, and that's the thing.
"I [have a coffee] also before some races and qualifying sessions, just to help me to reset myself. I love coffee quite a lot now, but I'm not in the level of Valtteri, nowhere near!"
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