Kimi battles through the chaos to bring home points
2020 FIA Formula One Tuscany Grand Prix – Race – Sunday
Weather: sunny, 30-30.2°C air, 45-38.7°C track
It looked a bit like a movie you had seen before. A lot of promise taken away in a few, cruel corners, the dream of a positive afternoon shattered in a shower of carbon fibre shards; an absurd crash extinguishing the remaining hopes before you had even got started.
And yet, despite the early setbacks, the Alfa Romeo Racing team persevered. What some circumstances took away, others gave back – a red flag erasing a big gap here, a great restart pushing them back up the rankings after losing so much ground in the opening shenanigans there – and in the end, the team reached Sunday afternoon’s promised land to celebrate Kimi’s first points of the season.
It was a race so eventful it’s almost difficult to recall everything that happened. Kimi was an unwilling and innocent part of the opening lap crash that brought out a Safety Car, the resulting damage inflicting a lot of pain to his C39’s performance. At the restart, Antonio collided with Magnussen as the field expanded and bunched up like a concertina on Mugello’s long finish straight, the crash suspending the race – the second red flag in as many weeks.
The crew worked on Kimi’s car in the break, trying to rebalance it to account for the missing chunks: it did a measure of good, but it still remained a handful for the rest of the race and it took all of Kimi’s talent to keep churning out good laps. When a good result was on the cards, a technical issue during the pit stop pushed the remaining Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN back to the bottom of the pile, a yawning gap that was thankfully erased by the second red flag of the day.
In the remaining 13 laps, with a five-second penalty hanging on Kimi’s head like a sword of Damocles, the Finn had to deliver an excellent start, jumping three places into P8, and a series of flawless laps to open up a gap big enough not to fall out of the points. He did it – in style, crossing the line ahead of both Ferraris on the road and still bringing home two golden points after the extra time was added.
It wasn’t an easy weekend, but the reward is there to see. It wasn’t an easy weekend, but the ones ending with a good result seldom are.
Frédéric Vasseur, Team Principal Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN and CEO Sauber Motorsport AG: “A very good result to get back in the points, although there still is the feeling we could have achieved more with a cleaner race. It was a very tough afternoon in which many things didn’t go in our favour, and to bring home a top ten finish shows the strength and resilience of this team. To see a big chunk of floor and a front wing come off Kimi’s car before the first lap was over and to lose Antonio from the race at the restart were big blows, but we dug deep and did all we could to turn the weekend around. The very eventful race, and the fact that Kimi was forced to drive a damaged car for the whole race, mean our progress was somewhat masked, but to be able to open a gap to our rivals big enough to almost nullify the penalty we suffered in the closing stages shows how much of a step forward we have made. We are definitely going in the right direction and we can take a lot of motivation from today’s result.”
Kimi Räikkönen (car number 7):
Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN C39 (Chassis 05/Ferrari)
Race result: 9th
Fastest lap: 1:21.164
Tyres: New Medium (1 lap) – Used Medium (26 laps) – New Hard (15 laps) – New Soft (17 laps)
“It was definitely not the smoothest of races but we finally managed to bring home some points, so we can be pleased about that. My race started pretty badly, I am not sure what exactly happened at turn two but I was hit and suffered a lot of damage. Probably whoever hit me didn’t expect the pack to slow as much as we did, but in any case the crash took away part of my floor and my front wing. The damage made the handling of the car really bad and we struggled with the balance: we lost a lot of downforce but in the end we were still able to push at a decent pace. I had a slow pit stop but thankfully the second red flag got us back in the fight. Then I had a penalty for crossing the pit entry line, which didn’t help, but after the second red flag I was still able to do some good laps and in the end only lost one place. It was far from the perfect execution of a race but, despite all the issues, we still brought home two important points. It’s still a bit of a shame as we have made some good progress and I think we could have finished even higher with a cleaner afternoon, but hopefully we will carry the performance to the next few events.”
Antonio Giovinazzi (car number 99):
Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN C39 (Chassis 04/Ferrari)
Race result: DNF
Fastest lap: 2:13.809
Tyres: New Soft (5 laps)
“It’s really frustrating to end a race like this, without having really raced a single lap, although I am happy for the team scoring points. I had made another good start, climbing to P14: I felt at ease in the car and who knows how the race could have gone. There’s not much I can say about the crash except that it was a very dangerous situation. Everyone around me was already up at full speed, but suddenly there was [Kevin] Magnussen almost stopped in the middle of the track. [Nicholas] Latifi avoided him but I just didn’t have the time – I tried to, but clipped his rear left. Thankfully, nobody got injured but it was a very dangerous crash. With such a long straight, this was always going to be an issue and we have to think on how to avoid this situation happening again in the future.”