Zhou Guanyu, a Chinese driver, is confident after finishing in the middle of the pack in both of Friday’s practice sessions for the Japanese Grand Prix.
“I am happy with the performance,” the F1 rookie said. “Overall, everything looks promising. It is tough but I like the track. I like high speed. The track has all that.”
In the opening practice, the 23-year-old Alfa Romeo driver finished 11th in 1 minute, 44.429 seconds, 2.181 seconds behind the leader Fernando Alonso of Alpine. He improved to tenth in FP2 with a lap of of 1:44.525.
In the second session, Lewis Hamilton, a seven-time world champion, finished 0.235 seconds behind George Russell, who set the fastest lap time for Mercedes with a time of one minute 41.935 seconds.
The leader of Red Bull Max Verstappen, who would keep his title on Sunday if he finished first with the fastest lap, was third, 0.851 seconds back from Russell.
In the opening session, the Dutchman finished sixth.
Both sessions were held in the rain. The track was quite “slippery,” according to Zhou.
The Swiss team made the decision to not install the new wing on both cars, thus they began the day with the old wing.
Zhou, the first full-time F1 driver from China, received a new contract with Alfa Romeo this week that would keep him and Valtteri Bottas on the team through 2023. He was 18th in the drivers’ standings with six points.