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Zhou aiming for points to start season in Bahrain

China’s first Formula One driver Zhou Guanyu will start his second season 13th on the grid at the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix and said he hoped for a points finish on Sunday.

Zhou was one place behind his Alfa Romeo team-mate Valtteri Bottas after a tense and close qualifying session at the Bahrain International Circuit on Saturday.

Zhou clocked a best lap of one minute and 31.473 compared to the Finn’s 1:31.443.

“Even from this position outside the top 10, I feel we have the potential to gain positions in the race as we did last year when we climbed through the field,” he said, as quoted by the team. 

“It will be a tight fight, once again, but points are definitely the target. Looking at our performance from practice, we are in the mix for the top 10 and it will often be a case of who can put everything together on the day.

“We went really close to it today, but ultimately fell a bit short. Still, there’s everything to play for tomorrow and I’m confident we can do a good job.”

Looking ahead to his second season in F1, Zhou said after last week’s test at the Bahrain track that he felt confident and wanted to prove his ability.

“I don’t care much about recognition, but I have confidence and I just need time.

“There are so many world champions in the paddock and they have a huge impact on me – what they say and do teaches me how to become a real professional F1 driver.”

He praised Bottas for giving him support.

“He told me to hold steady and to calm down and showed me how to bounce back from all the pressure and to focus on the work,” he explained in news media interviews.

He also revealed his gratitude to the Chinese fans who give him support “wherever I am, they are always there to back me.”

He revealed his helmet for the 2023 season on Twitter. It is purple and yellow and has his name on one side and the skyline of his home city, Shanghai, on the back.

It also features a rabbit on the top to mark the Chinese Year of the Rabbit. 

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