The start of a new journey
Sakhir, 16 March 2022 – The start of a new season is always a big moment. Lots of expectations, months of work behind the scenes, long nights of winter testing – all converge into this one race, the start of nine months of competition towards the ultimate accolade.
This year’s Bahrain Grand Prix is an even more crucial juncture in time: it’s the start of a new era of Formula One, with new cars, new rules and, who knows, perhaps a new hierarchy across the grid. It’s the start of a new chapter for the team, with a new name, Alfa Romeo F1 Team ORLEN, and two new drivers, Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu, joining the team and willing to make their mark. It’s the start of a new story, one that will take us all the way around the world, touching five continents before we head back to the Middle East for the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
The feeling of readiness as the season starts is something special: as exciting and holding promise as the first day of school; as inebriating as a genepy after a day in the Alps; as loaded with mystery and expectation as a sealed envelope holding a secret.
As we line up on the grid in Sakhir, a new era arrives. Alfa Romeo F1 Team ORLEN is ready: let the race begin.
Frédéric Vasseur, Team Principal: “It’s finally time to start the season and I think we are as eager as anyone to see where everyone really is when it matters. Some may see it as the moment of truth but, in reality, it will still take a few rounds to have a clearer idea of the pecking order. Still, points are on offer on Sunday and we need to do our last bits of homework after the test to make sure we’re in the best possible shape come raceday. Everyone back at base and here at the track has done a massive job over the winter: now it’s time to reap its rewards. We are hungry, we are motivated and we are ready: we have two drivers eager to show their mettle in the cockpit and I am sure we will all enjoy being back in a competitive setting after the winter break.”
Valtteri Bottas (Car 77): “This race is the start of a new chapter in my career and I am confident I can achieve the goals I set together with the team. I’ve been impressed by the work ethic I’ve found since I first got to Hinwil and by the work we did over the winter: we encountered some issues in testing, but I know we’re on top of them and we can focus on achieving the best possible result on Sunday. It’s going to be a long season and it’s still a bit of a question mark in terms of where everyone stands: I think everyone is looking forward to a bit more clarity this weekend! The important thing, however, is that we keep working to unlock all the potential of the C42 and we focus on having a clean weekend: this way, we will maximise our chances to come home with a good result to start our season. I believe in this team and I believe we can achieve so much if we work hard together.”
Zhou Guanyu (Car 24): “I have been dreaming of making my debut in Formula One for years: this weekend will be an unforgettable moment for me and my country. It’s a moment I will relish, and so will my family and everyone who helped us on this journey: we have worked so hard to be here and I am grateful for all the support I have received over the years. The hard work doesn’t stop with my debut, of course: I am now in the most prestigious and competitive motorsport series and I am aware of the scope of the challenge ahead. I know how hard I will need to work and how quick I will need to learn: thankfully, the team is around me and they have been superb at helping me be ready for this moment. I know so many people will be watching me on Sunday and I want to make them proud.”