Alfa Romeo Racing can be pleased with the start of the 2019 Formula One season, as the Swiss team is currently fourth in the constructors’ championship: most of the credit goes to Kimi Räikkönen, who scored some solid points in Australia and Bahrain. Many are seeing Haas, Renault and even McLaren as ‘best of the rest’ but points awarded thus far show that Alfa Romeo should also be taken into consideration, despite the fact that Antonio Giovinazzi has struggled with two finsiged outside the points zone.
In Bahrain Kimi 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, Kimi 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 Kimi – “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.
As reported by auto-motor-und-sport.de a, Alfa Romeo Racing will be introducing a new rear wing for the 2019 Chinese Grand Prix, which will take place this weekend at the Shanghai International Circuit. According to AMuS, the new design is aimed at delivering a more stable rear end, higher downforce levels aimed at improving the harder Pirelli compounds.
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 hards compared to the softest rubber.