Guanyu Zhou was left ecstatic by impressing on his maiden outing in F1 after trailing Alpine regular Esteban Ocon by under half a second in practice for the Austrian Grand Prix.
Zhou, who became the first Chinese driver since Ma Qing Hia to compete in an F1 session eight years ago, replaced Fernando Alonso for the opening practice session and ended up 14th fastest, 0.434secs slower than his French team-mate.
The F2 championship leader was even closer on the medium tyres, coming within two-tenths of Ocon's times and speaking about his experience, Zhou said: “It’s amazing.
"I mean, I am really thankful for the opportunity, the team believing in me to step into Fernando’s car. I had to take care of it but I was also pushing as much as I could to show my own full potential.
“At the end, we were actually quite fast with the medium tyres and that was actually really good, the team was really happy with what we’ve done. We did a lot, mainly focused on getting the set-up change to help the team.
"The lap time is also there so that is another thing less to worry about and now really, just focus in the future to see what I can bring for the team.
“I went through all the lap times with Esteban, I think we were quite similar, less than two tenths on the same compound tyres, so I am happy with the way everything went.
“I definitely proved myself here but there is still a lot of work to do in the background and try to improve things more for the future."
Ilott hoped to "have gone a bit faster"
Alfa Romeo also provided reserve driver Callum Ilott with a run out in FP1 in Austria, finishing 16th on his second outing of the year.
"Obviously, I am a bit more familiar with the car and how the weekend works. It is a bit easier for me. I really enjoyed it. It is not easy jumping straight in after everyone has done the weekend here but it was good, really enjoyable, a very fast circuit and a lovely car from Alfa Romeo."
"I think overall, I haven't driven the car for two months so it was a little bit of a reset but I knew where the baseline was, it is a new circuit for me in an F1 car.
"I think there were a few little things I progressed with. The very soft tyres are something you need to get used to and you don't get many opportunities to get used to but it went well from my side.
"No offs, no mistakes so from my side it was all good. I would have liked to have gone a bit faster but sometimes you have got to build up a bit."
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