Monaco, 26 May 2024 – The glitz and glamour of Monte Carlo once again set the stage for the Monaco Grand Prix, where the tight and unforgiving street circuit posed its usual challenges. Kick Sauber’s Zhou Guanyu faced a difficult weekend, ultimately finishing in 16th place in a race that saw minimal opportunities for advancement.

Starting from the second-last row, Zhou and teammate Valtteri Bottas were initially caught in a tense situation on the first lap, which saw an accident involving Sergio Perez, Kevin Magnussen, and Nico Hülkenberg. The subsequent red flag halted proceedings, allowing the team to reassess strategies.

At the restart, Zhou found himself in a strategic quandary. The decision to switch to hard tyres early on, shared by most of the grid, locked in strategies that ultimately left little room for variation. Despite the team’s efforts, the nature of Monaco meant that overtaking opportunities were virtually nonexistent.

Zhou’s race was characterized by its processional nature. Following the restart, he remained stuck in traffic, particularly behind Logan Sargeant’s Williams. The mid-race swap with Bottas allowed Zhou to push in clean air, but the lack of a Safety Car or additional strategic shake-ups meant he could not capitalize further.

Zhou’s lap times were consistent, and he managed a personal best of 1:14.718 late in the race. However, his final stint on soft tyres, intended as a strategic gamble for a possible late Safety Car, did not yield the desired results.

Alessandro Alunni Bravi, the team representative, noted the challenging nature of the race: “Today was a processionary race with a red flag after lap one, where all drivers except Sargeant decided to change their tyres – ultimately resulting in no more pit stops being expected. We tried our best to allow our drivers to attack the cars in front of them, but at a track like Monaco, where overtaking possibilities are close to zero, positions for most of the field were locked in.”

He emphasized the team’s focus on improving performance: “Zhou experienced a more difficult race: he was stuck behind Sargeant until we decided to have him swap position with Valtteri. During the last segment of the race, he lost his position to the Williams under blue flags, before we pitted him onto the soft compound in case of a late Safety Car that didn’t happen. On a positive note, all three of our pit-stops today have been our fastest during the entire season so far. They were fast and consistent – something important as it shows that we can react and improve.”

Zhou reflected on the race’s limitations: “It’s been a really tame and uneventful afternoon for me. At the first start, I saw the accident with Perez, Magnussen and Hülkenberg just in front of me: it was a sketchy moment and I’m happy to see them all walk away from the shunt. After the restart, everyone got all the way to the end and we were all in the same boat, so there was nothing we could do.”

Looking ahead, Zhou remains optimistic: “Fernando was holding up the whole pack to create a gap for his teammate, which meant we were all in a train with no potential to overtake. Perhaps the race would have been a bit more interesting without the red flag, with different strategies, but it wasn’t the case. Monaco has always been a bit tricky for us, we need to understand why we suffer on layouts like these. We have work to do ahead of us, but we know Montreal will be different.”

The Monaco Grand Prix proved to be a tough outing for Zhou Guanyu and this team, with the Chinese driver finishing 16th in a race that underscored the challenges of the historic circuit. With lessons learned, the team now turns its focus to the upcoming Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal, where they hope to capitalize on a more favorable circuit layout.

Starting Position: P19
Finishing Position: P16
Fastest Lap: 1:14.718 (Lap 75)
Pit Stops: Lap 1 (New Hard), Lap 70 (New Soft)

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