Alfa Romeo Racing – Team’s half-term report
2019 FIA Formula One Rolex Magyar Nagydij – Preview
Ups and downs. High peaks and deep throughs. No, this is not a description of the Swiss landscape the team can see from their HQ’s windows (close enough, though), but a fair assessment of Alfa Romeo Racing’s season as they approach the final race before the summer break.
With eleven races gone, ten ahead. We’ve passed the halfway point of this 2019 season and, as the Formula One circus heads to Budapest, it is as good a moment as any to look back at the first part of the team’s season and draw a balance.
The Team: 2019 saw Alfa Romeo Racing take on the season with a line-up mixing the experience of a World Champion (hello, Kimi) with the youthful enthusiasm of a driver tackling his first full F1 season (ciao, Antonio). The team entered the championship with a brand new identity, drawing on the heritage and magic of the Alfa Romeo marque and turning heads with yet another beautiful paint scheme. There were new appointments to strengthen the squad back at base, as well, and build on the strong foundations they laid in 2018.
The bad: A barren spell in the spring, with those pointless races in Barcelona, Monaco and Canada where they didn’t get the car where they wanted. There were a few missed opportunities, like Baku, where perhaps they didn’t score as much as they should have. It all means the team arrive’s in Budapest in ninth place in the championship.
The good: thankfully, a lot more in this category than in the previous one. Scoring in seven out of 11 races, a pretty good hit rate but one on which they will still want to improve. That said the team has had a solid, upward momentum from the start of the season, with their car becoming better and better as the season went on and drivers managing to extract the most out of it with each passing race. Kimi showed all his class and Antonio, now fully accustomed to Formula One, continues to improve, both drivers being a regular presence in the point-scoring positions. As a team, it’s fair to say they are increasingly at the sharp end of the midfield.
The Big Picture: The last two and a half years have shown this team has the capacity to improve – quickly and decisively. From backmarkers in 2017, with an average qualifying laptime nearly 5% slower than the leaders, they are now right in the battle at the front of midfield, having reduced the gap to the frontrunners to less than 2%.
Their improvement is evident also when comparing the more successful 2018 season to the current one. This time last year, the team had just 18 points to their name – a vast difference from where they stand now. 48 was their tally from the full season, a target that looks well within reach and that the team will be aiming to surpass.
Sum it up for us, then: Lots of positives to build on, a few negatives to work on. The improvement journey never stops in Formula One, but the Alfa Romeo Racing team can look with confidence at the second part of the season.
Frédéric Vasseur, Team Principal Alfa Romeo Racing and CEO Sauber Motorsport AG:
“We can draw some positives from our performance in Hockenheim: we had our best qualifying in years, we raced strongly and we would have been well placed to be best of the rest in a slightly less eventful race. Our objective will be to capitalise on our pace in Hungary, score as many points as possible and make sure we take a positive momentum into the summer break.”
Kimi Räikkönen #7:
“After Hockenheim, Hungary is another track where we can be competitive. It will be another case of maximising what we have, if we want to stay ahead of the others in the midfield.”
Antonio Giovinazzi #99:
“Let’s focus on the positives from Hockenheim. We were quick in Germany, we didn’t do driving mistakes in very challenging conditions and we could have been right behind the leaders. We need to focus on that and try to keep this level of performance in Budapest. The Hungaroring is a track I like and hopefully we can have a good result to finish the first part of the season.”