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Zhou Guanyu secured the best finish of his Formula 1 career at the Canadian Grand Prix. Photo: AFP

Formula 1: Zhou Guanyu ‘super happy’ for Alfa Romeo team after coming 8th at Canadian Grand Prix

  • Chinese driver bags best result of F1 career in Montreal and says it was no more than his team deserved
  • Teammate Valtteri Bottas finishes seventh, as team boss calls drivers’ performance ‘a nice reward for a few tough weekends’

Zhou Guanyu breathed a huge sigh of relief after claiming the best result of his Formula 1 career at the Canadian Grand Prix, and said he was “super happy” to have just finally finished a race.

The Alfa Romeo driver was back in the points in Montreal, and although initially coming ninth, a place behind Valtteri Bottas, he and his teammate were later promoted one spot after Fernando Alonso was handed a five-second penalty.

After several weeks of car trouble and frustration, Zhou’s finish early on Monday morning, Hong Kong Time, was his second in the top 10 of a Grand Prix, after his point-scoring debut in Bahrain in the first race of the season.

At the top of the pile, Max Verstappen tightened his grip on the drivers’ world championship with victory from pole after he held off Ferarri’s Carlos Sainz in a thrilling finish at Circuit Gilles Vielleneuve.

Lewis Hamilton, who on Friday had called his car “undriveable”, finally got back on the podium to finish third ahead of Mercedes teammate George Russell in fourth.

Having become the first full-time Chinese driver in F1 at the start of the season, Zhou became the first of his countrymen to start from the top 10 on the grid, and after having to retire in three of the past four races, the luck finally went his way.

“Yeah, finally, it’s like a big deep breath that we have what’s been missing for the past few rounds, and finally we get to finish and be in the points,” he said.

“It’s my best finish in F1 and it’s been a good weekend. I’m obviously super happy, I didn’t have much experience with this track and was coming in blind.

“In the race we had very strong pace, and I always knew if we could finish a race we’d be fighting for points. We fully deserved these points”

Valtteri Bottas leads Alfa Romeo teammate Zhou Guanyu through a corner during the Canadian Grand Prix. Photo: AFP

Alfa Romeo team principal Frédéric Vasseur called the performance by his two drivers, “a nice reward for a few tough weekends”.

“Both Valtteri and Zhou executed their races well and were able to bring home their cars in the points,” he said. “It shows the spirit of this team, we didn’t let our heads drop and we came back fighting here in Canada. I can’t fault either of the drivers for their races, they were solid and didn’t make mistakes.”

The six points Bottas took in Montreal lifted him to eighth in the overall drivers’ championship on 46 points, while the four Zhou picked up took him to five overall and 16th in the table. Their performances kept Alfa Romeo sixth in the constructor standings.

Max Verstappen celebrates after his victory in Montreal. Photo: AFP

Verstappen controlled a tactical race from pole position through three safety car interventions and resisted intense late pressure from Sainz to win by less than a second.

It was the Red Bull driver’s first victory in Canada in his 150th career start, his sixth this year and the 26th of his career, hoisting him 46 points clear of his rivals in the championship.

“I was giving it everything,” Verstappen said. “But so was Carlos. He was pushing, charging, pushing, charging. Naturally, it’s easier to charge with DRS! I had fun today.”

Sainz said: “We were quicker, faster all race, but it’s difficult to overtake round here. I’m particularly happy with the race pace and with the pressure we put on Max.”

Hamilton, a record seven-time winner in Montreal, cheered the big crowd – part of a weekend attendance of 338,000 – and said he was “overwhelmed to get third place. It’s been quite a battle, but we’ve never given up. I’ve been inspired by my crew.”

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, who started at the back of the grid after taking a penalty for a new engine, finished fifth ahead of Esteban Ocon of Alpine.