The topic came up on his first lap in the first free practice session. Valtteri Bottas was able to drive his car back into the pits but had to watch the remainder of the session from the side as the MGU-K and gearbox needed to be replaced in his Alfa Romeo C42. Mick Schumacher had a similar problem in the VT1 and he had to change the same parts in his Haas, which like Alfa Romeo has a Ferrari power source.
It’s the fourth weekend in a row that Bottas has (almost) missed an entire session. “I’ve already suggested to Fred that maybe I shouldn’t show up in Baku until Friday night,” the ten-time Grand Prix winner told Alfa Romeo team principal Frederic Vasseur when asked by Motorsport.com about his losing streak. “This is unfortunate and a very different problem than before. Mick had the same thing as far as I know, but I don’t think there were any more problems in VT2 after that. I don’t know why, but I’m sure they’re looking into it.”
The problem with the MGU-K also resulted in a €1,000 fine for Bottas for pit lane driving. He exceeded the maximum speed by 21.9 kilometers per hour. “The MGU-K was still working. I had activated the speed limiter but couldn’t brake. It was a bit strange,” said Bottas, who finished third in the second practice session. As the C42 is usually strong in slow corners, much is expected from Alfa Romeo this weekend. Bottas doesn’t run away. “The car is good enough for the top ten, I see no reason why not. I’m sure there’s more to it, for me and for the car.”
Zhou experienced an anxious moment
Zhou Guanyu didn’t have a clean Friday either. Bottas’ teammate had a brake problem at the end of VT1. That happened on the way to the chicane after the tunnel. Zhou managed to avoid a crash, but missed starting VT2 because the problem wasn’t fixed yet. “It was scary and I was lucky,” said the Chinese Motorsport.com† Zhou finished the second practice session in fifteenth place.