While Alfa Romeo has managed to hold off Mercedes this F1 season, Xevi Pujolar, the team’s chief track engineer, is satisfied and reveals feelings about the battle with Mercedes and current team leader George Russell.
Mercedes’ beloved driver Lewis Hamilton came close to winning an eighth F1 world title last year and was hoping to be a Formula One frontrunner at the start of the season, but the British driver is most certainly in trouble this season, as is Mercedes. That said, the benefit for the sport is that Mercedes’ fall from grace has now given other teams the opportunity to shine.
Last weekend, Valtteri Bottas (5th) held off George Russell (4th) at the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix, something that Alfa Romeo is happy with.
“It’s a healthy competition, and good for everyone,” explains Alfa’s chief track engineer,
“It’s very, very encouraging for us. The question is what happens when they fight. At the moment we don’t know until we fight with them. When we fought with Russell’s Mercedes, it was a bit difficult on the straights. In Miami, it can be different.”
Miami is expected to be less dependent on engine power with a large series of corners and elevation changes along with an uneven track surface in places. The race weekend will also see a return to the traditional timetable of Friday practice, a third practice then qualifying on Saturday, race on Sunday. Very different to the sprint format used in Italy last time out.
“Miami will be a different format for the race weekend, so hopefully we’ll have a chance if we can start higher up the grid,” confirms Pujolar,
“For us, the challenge is to fight with Alpine and McLaren in particular. That’s our next goal and so far I think we’ve shown that we can do it. I don’t know what they’re going to bring to Miami, for sure everyone is pushing. But I think it’s a healthy competition, and good for everyone,”