Valtteri Bottas started Alfa Romeo’s F1 2023 campaign with a P8 finish, running as high as sixth early on.

Bottas fended off a fast-charging Pierre Gasly, who stopped under the Virtual Safety Car for new softs.

Where do the big three stand ahead of the F1 season opener? | Bahrain F1 2023

It means Alfa Romeo sits fifth in the constructors’ championship after Bahrain, two points ahead of Alpine.

With Aston Martin taking a big leap into the top pack, Alpine are likely to be in a battle with Alfa Romeo and McLaren, when they turn things around.

Alpine could have come away from Bahrain with an additional point, with Gasly holding the fastest lap.

However, Alfa Romeo decided to stop Zhou Guanyu, who was running outside of the points, for new tyres and take the fastest lap off Alpine.

Speaking in his post-race show - ‘Ted’s Notebook’ - Kravitz gave Alfa Romeo credit for their tactics at the end of the race.

“The fastest lap today was scored by Zhou Guanyu, but I hear you ask, where did Zhou finish? Well the answer is 16th,” he said. “Well you don’t get a point for fastest lap if you finish outside the top 10 but you can make sure that somebody else doesn’t get the fastest lap, and Pierre Gasly, who up until that point was holding it for Alpine didn’t get it because Zhou got it. 

“They pitted Zhou on the last lap, put a set of soft tyres on and sent him out to steal the fastest lap point away from Alpine. So nobody scored an extra point for fastest lap today because they nicked it off Alpine. I love it. I love that they already know down here that it’s going to get nasty and close with Alpine in the championship. 

“They’ve had the foresight that they don’t want to get to Abu Dhabi where they’re fighting over one point anymore so let’s nick it off Alpine - twist the knife.”

In 2022, Alfa Romeo beat Aston Martin to sixth in the championship on countback - the two teams were level on points but they finished ahead due to Bottas’ P5 at Imola.