Alessandro Alunni Bravi, Team Principal of Alfa Romeo, expressed his reasoning behind their decision to keep Zhou for another year, stating that they want stability in their driver line-up during this period of transition for the team. “Our aim was always to keep working with him for another year,” Alunni Bravi said. He also acknowledged Zhou’s improvement from last year to this season, particularly in qualifying, where he was able to match the performance of Valtteri Bottas on several occasions. However, Alunni Bravi noted that Zhou still needs to be more aggressive from the start of the weekend and improve his consistency from circuit to circuit.
In terms of being on par with Bottas, Alunni Bravi highlighted that Zhou needs to have more confidence in his own abilities and make his own technical decisions instead of always following Bottas. He believes that Zhou has taken a step in the right direction this season but expects more progress in this area.
Moving on to the Singapore Grand Prix, Alfa Romeo is optimistic about their chances after securing points in Monza. Alunni Bravi mentioned that they had a difficult start in Monza but managed to recover and that their race pace is stronger than their qualifying performance. He also mentioned that they have introduced a new front suspension, a new floor, and a completely new aerodynamic package for Singapore, which they believe will bring benefits. However, Alunni Bravi acknowledged that their weakness has been qualifying, and if they can have both cars in Q2, they believe they can fight for points.
Switching focus to Mercedes, Toto Wolff, the Team Principal, commented on Max Verstappen‘s belief that Red Bull could struggle in Singapore and whether Mercedes could contend for victory. Wolff stated that he doesn’t want to predict anything and emphasized the importance of delivering a solid performance in qualifying. He expects a close competition between four or five teams at the front.
When asked about the team’s past performances in Singapore, Wolff recognized that this track poses unique challenges compared to others. He highlighted the role of tire overheating and the difficulty of extracting peak grip performance. He mentioned that if a team is even a millimeter off the window in terms of setup, they can be easily beaten by their competitors.
Regarding the Mercedes car’s setup in high-downforce trim, Wolff avoided categorizing it simply as high or low downforce. He stated that in the past, they have had better performances in races that require high downforce, but it’s always a fight to be competitive in such races. Therefore, he couldn’t confidently say that they are in better shape in Singapore than they were in Monza.
Wolff addressed contract negotiations with George Russell, explaining that their long-standing relationship played a significant role. He also humorously mentioned that there was no reason for another ten-year contract and suggested that they would reassess the situation in the future. As for Lewis Hamilton, Wolff described negotiations with him as different due to their busy schedules. However, he stated that they were clear on the main terms before the summer and that reaching an agreement was always their goal as long as both parties wanted to continue working together.
When asked about starting work on the 2024 car, Wolff admitted that they still have a lot to learn from the current season. He acknowledged that every lesson they learn this year will be valuable for next year but pointed out that no one is working on the current cars anymore.
Switching to Haas, Guenther Steiner, the Team Principal, addressed the team’s performance in Monza and stated that they understand the issues they faced to some extent. He echoed Toto Wolff‘s sentiment about the challenges of the Singapore circuit, highlighting that it’s a unique track that poses difficulties for teams. Steiner did not provide further details on the specific issues they encountered in Monza.