The Swiss team formerly known as Sauber are somewhat going under the radar after two races, coming in for 4th place in the constructors’ championship – Kimi Räikkönen also scored some solid points in the second race of the season and for China, things could go even better.
Many are seeing Haas, Renault and even McLaren as ‘best of the rest’ but points awarded thus far show that Alfa-Romeo are the pick of the bunch with 10 points, two more than Haas and McLaren, four more than the factory team Renault. Kimi Räikkönen scored well in both races, whereas teammate Antonio Giovinazzi has been finding his feet with 15th and 11th, no score finishes.
Actually, things could have gone much better in Bahrain for Alfa, Antonio Giovinazzi was only 6.2 seconds behind Sergio Perez before the safety car appeared, but was catching the Mexican fast at more than a second per lap.
Räikkönen was chasing McLaren’s Lando Norris hard for sixth place when again, the safety car intervened.
“I’m a bit disappointed that I didn’t get the McLaren.” says the Finn
“I tried everything and was faster than Norris. In the first part of the corners, I was able to stay close, but at the exit, I always lost traction when I was too close.
“He always pulled me away in the first part of the acceleration.” indicating that the McLaren had a better rear end than the Sauber during that phase of the Grand Prix.
By pitting early during the race, Räikkönen seemed to lure his direct opponents into pitting too. The experienced racer lost two positions on the track against Lando Norris and Nico Hülkenberg after the first pit stop.
“In the middle part of the race on medium tyres I had trouble, especially with the wind in corners 6, 7, 8 and 10,” admits Raikkonen.
“At turns 6, 7 and 10, I always lost the rear. Especially when the wind came from behind. That got better on the soft tyres. Maybe the wind changed its direction later. It changed all the time.”
For the last stint, the Alfa Romeo of Räikkönen again picked up the pace relative to the rest of the midfield around him: “The car ran really well on the soft tyres and I was faster than the cars in front of me”
“Unfortunately, we couldn’t try the tyres long enough on Friday to gain experience with them,” says Räikkönen, explaining the surprising difficulties on the medium compound.
“It’s brutally tight [in the midfield]. One mistake and you’re tenth instead of sixth. We must not allow ourselves any mistakes.
“Neither the driver nor the team.
“Overall, we need more downforce,” concludes the Finn.
Kimi’s wishes are to be granted. AMuS are reporting that a new rear wing is planned for the race, specific for China. It is said that the new design is aimed at delivering a more stable rear end, higher downforce levels aimed at improving the harder compound Pirellis.
Just how well it’ll work is anyone’s guess, but perhaps Alfa are not hedging their bets just yet as indicated by the drivers nominated compounds for the race. Both drivers electing to run very few medium and hard’s compared to the softest rubber.
Unlikely, but incredible should Kimi pull it off…
If Kimi or Antonio pull off a surprise win in China, Alfa can claim to have won both the 1st F1 GP and the 1000th. The first Grand Prix under the banner “Formula 1” was held at Silverstone in 1950. It was dominated by Alfa Romeo’s taking all the podium positions.
Alfa Romeo is the only team name that features in both the 1st GP and the 1000th Grand Prix’.