Zhou clashed with Pierre Gasly on the opening lap of the Imola sprint race, suffering heavy damage to both the front and rear of his Alfa Romeo F1 car after spinning across the track into the inside wall at Piratella.
The Alfa Romeo mechanics faced a lengthy car rebuild which meant the team worked on the car both after the curfew and under parc ferme conditions.
The incident was referred to the FIA stewards who have penalised Zhou with a pitlane start for Sunday’s grand prix. Zhou had been due to start from 20th place having failed to finish the sprint.
“Car 24 [Zhou] was involved in a collision and suffered significant damage during the Sprint session,” the FIA stewards report read.
“In repairing Car 24 subsequent to the Sprint session, Car 24 was found to have breached Article 40.6 of the FIA Formula 1 Sporting Regulations as the car used during the Sprint session was not covered and ready for FIA seals within 2 hours of the Sprint session. Furthermore, in breach of Article 40.9, the Competitor was found to have continued to work on the car unsupervised while under parc ferme conditions.
“The Competitor admitted that modifications were made to the car. In any event, given the lack of supervision the Stewards would have been entitled to draw an inference that modifications were made to the car and/or changes were made to the set-up of the suspension while the car was to have been held under parc ferme conditions.
“The penalty for breach of the parc ferme conditions is specified in Article 40.9 b), which is for the driver to start from the pitlane. We accordingly imposed the penalty stipulated in Article 40.9 b).”
Asked about the collision with Gasly after the sprint, Zhou felt he had completed the overtake on the AlphaTauri driver which was why he closed into the French driver’s line which resulted in the pair clashing.
“It was quite a good fight together with two or three cars on the opening lap, then into Turn 9 I saw I think one of the Mercedes was defending to Pierre and then I had an opportunity on the outside to outbrake him,” Zhou said. “On braking everything was complete.
“Then yeah, the next thing I got was a massive hit on exit, which is surprising, I felt like the move was done before that. So we have to have a look what happened.
“But yeah, quite disappointing the race end up like that, because I think, as a team, we had a good potential this weekend.”