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Formula 1 Austrian GP

Zhou: Outdeveloping F1 midfield rivals "difficult" for Alfa Romeo

Alfa Romeo's Zhou Guanyu admitted the Swiss team is struggling to keep up its development pace in F1's midfield as it awaits a next round of upgrades at Silverstone.

Zhou Guanyu, Alfa Romeo F1 Team

F1 2023's extremely tight midfield battle is trademarked by an ebb and flow of teams rushing out parts that can yield several positions, but while several teams have made significant gains, Alfa Romeo has been quietly slipping backwards in recent weeks.

Valtteri Bottas and Zhou qualified 14th and 17th respectively at the Austrian Grand Prix. And while Bottas' race was compromised by front wing damage, Zhou equally struggled for pace and finished a lap down in 12th, with only AlphaTauri and Haas suffering worse races.

But with Haas' Nico Hulkenberg picking up points in the sprint, Alfa has dropped to eighth in the standings, just two points ahead of Williams.

When asked by Motorsport.com if he was concerned about the team not bringing updates quickly enough amid 2023's development war, Zhou admitted Alfa struggled to keep up with some rival teams.

"Yeah, it's always going to be the case," Zhou replied. "Compared to a lot of the bigger teams they obviously can bring multiple upgrades if one doesn't work and for us, we have to kind of stick to what we've got, before we planned the season.

"Of course, we're trying our hardest but it's not easy, and let's say it's been a few more difficult weekends for the team.

"Everyone is obviously bringing upgrades and we're talking about not even tenths or one hundredths, we're talking about thousandths.

"I missed Q2 two times over like 0.006s in total over two laps."

Zhou Guanyu, Alfa Romeo C43

Zhou Guanyu, Alfa Romeo C43

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Alfa Romeo's 2023 C43 car is not known for having any major flaws but is just lacking overall grip and aerodynamic load, which the team has been trying to address.

The upgrades it is bringing to this weekend's British Grand Prix at Silverstone represent the next step in that process, and given the tight midfield margins, the Hinwil team is hoping they can provide enough of a benefit to start qualifying better.

"Everything is very tight," said head of trackside engineering Xevi Pujolar. "From race to race, it can go either towards one side or another side. Here, it was not enough for us to fight for the points.

"Part of it is because of our qualifying performance is something that still we need to focus on to improve.

"But we've now got a few days, we've got some new parts coming for Silverstone.

"We want to recover as soon as possible the P7 in the championship and keep fighting."

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Bottas welcomed the upgrades, but warned the team would need a lot more than its Silverstone package to turn around its fortunes.

"Yeah, we definitely need it," he added. "It seems like some teams made some steps this weekend, and we didn't obviously bring anything new.

"It's such fine margins that you're then just on the back foot, so we definitely need those upgrades and even more than that soon."

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