Kimi Raikkonen, Alfa Romeo, Circuit de Catalunya, 2019

Raikkonen: Alfa Romeo has made a “big step” since last year

2019 F1 season

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Kimi Raikkonen described his first run in testing for Alfa Romeo as “very, very positive” and believes the team has made big gains during the off-season.

“It’s a very positive feeling,” Raikkonen told RaceFans and other media following his first run in the C38 today. “Straight out, not really doing an awful lot with the car, tried a few things here and there. [I’m] very happy actually.”

Raikkonen had a chance to test the team’s previous car at the end of last season and said they had clearly made progress since then.

“The guys did the very good job over the winter. We have a package that we can work [with]. Everything feels normal and I’m sure like what I tried at the end of last year – the old car from Sauber, this is a Alfa car – it’s a big step for sure. The lap time comes easily, I’m very happy.”

The day did not start as planned as Raikkonen spun into a gravel trap during his first run. However by the end of the day he was one of only four drivers to cover more than 100 laps.

“We expected that everything would run smoothly, apart from my spin,” he said. “I’m not really surprised – any team expects to do good laps in the car.

“I think 10, 15 years ago was a different story. But now the cars are reliable, there’s been a lot of work been done on the car that it’s reliable and we can run laps because it’s important. There’s only a very limited amount of days that we can do testing so we need to put laps and learn from the car. I’m not really surprised at all.

“Obviously last winter with the weather conditions was complete different picture than this year. Everything ran smoothly on the car side so. We give it up and then we’ll do even more laps every day and that’s a key for learning and doing things and then getting to be ready for Melbourne.”

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16 comments on “Raikkonen: Alfa Romeo has made a “big step” since last year”

  1. Ferrari is the name of those big gains

  2. Everything feels normal and I’m sure like what I tried at the end of last year – the old car from Sauber, this is a Alfa car – it’s a big step for sure. The lap time comes easily, I’m very happy.

    I can just imagine the Ferrari-Kimi negotiation going something like:
    F: “Kimi, we want you to drive for Sauber next year.”
    K: “Bwoah! What? No. Sauber is a rubbish car, always at the back.”
    F: “No, no, it’s not Sauber, it’s Alfa Romeo, big brand, very good cars.”
    K: “Oh, it’s okay then. I will drive.”

    1. Wouldn’t be ironic if he did go back to support Leclerc after they give Seb the boot…

      1. Love the crystal balls… ;-)

      2. It will be more ironic when he’s standing on the podium.

  3. I really love the front on view of this Alfa, especially the shape of the side pod inlets which are much more visible now with the white part of the livery. This is definitely the most interesting car on the grid because they didn’t play it safe at all. It looks stable on track too, despite the spin. Just a bit too light on slow corner turn in, causing some understeer and a couple lockups. That outwash control with the flat outer 4th and 5th elements might have something to do with it, but might also have helped with their speed trap performance (second I think). I’m looking forward to seeing this car develop throughout the season. I suspect if the approach works as well as they hope, some of this aero philosophy might show up on Ferrari’s upgrades around Barcelona.

    Kimi was a hell of a big get for this team. And he seems a lot happier away from the glare and pressure of Ferrari, being able to just enjoy driving an F1 car. That seems to improve his driving, as it was after Monza when he knew he was let go that he really started to challenge the field and ultimately win in Austin.

    1. I am living in Switzerland, @lunaslide, so a big fan of Sauber a.k.a. Alfa. So it’s really good to hear this from you. I am wishing the whole team lots of luck and hoping they do well. They were really on the up and up until James Key left for Toro Rosso; at least that’s my take on why things started to go wrong for them.

      1. I’m really excited for Sauber/Alfa this year (and a bit sad about the name change). Last year really drew me in with Vasseur and Leclerc and I wasn’t disappointed. Adding Kimi was a stroke of genius. Of course they are getting a huge influx of money, but that isn’t going to be the secret to their success, just their means of actually achieving it. The team seems in much better hands now. Hoping very much for good things from Hinwill.

  4. Bold prediction: Kimi is going to step on the podium this year. If he has a car he is happy with, he’s capable of producing results. Harmony with the machine wasn’t always the case at Ferrari, so this is a good omen!

    1. @newfangled I really like that idea, and I don’t think it’s out of left field.

      I think Alfa might has something special going on this year, the chemistry just seems to be right. Something I heard during testing this morning really perked my ears up. Apparently the aerodynamic engineers who have been working on the Sauber/Alfa Romeo came from the Audi team when their LMP1 project suddenly went poof after dieselgate. Now, that doesn’t mean they are suddenly Adrian Newey level talent, but that’s not the important part. That Audi team was so dominant because of their unrelenting pursuit of improvement over time, and the way they iterated their development showed the kind of discipline and focus that leads to championships. I doubt that a championship is on the cards for them in F1, but I think they can fight Renault and possibly pick up the pieces when things go wrong for the top three. The midfield battle this year looks to be even better than last year, and hopefully convergence takes the field from F1.5 to maybe F1.25 or thereabouts (whatever that means :p).

      1. @lunaslide, it could be contended that, on the other hand, Audi tended to be one of the heaviest spenders in the WEC – one of the former heads of VW’s motorsport programme indicated that they were spending over €100 million a year on the WEC, and that sum was only growing with time.

        It also has to be noted that, in their earlier years, they had no real competition in the LMP1 class given they were the only manufacturer in a field of privateers. Privately, a few former engineers admit that they basically paid Porsche off not to complete with them in the LMP1 class at the start of the 2000s, and at times even Audi admitted that the regulations favoured them (such as, when Audi introduced the R10 and admitted it was slightly over the weight limit, less than a week later the ACO announced that it was increasing the minimum weight limit – even Audi could not help but note that change seemed to be designed to help them).

        1. I’m really not talking about their successes, nor the politics of WEC (which are horrendously silly). I’m just speaking to the mindset of the Audi team, which I can admire without really being a fan. I’m just talking about what that standard of effort can do for a team like Alfa Romeo, and it’s encouraging for their prospects in F1.

          1. @lunaslide, I am stupidly excited now for the start of the season! I am loving your input to the RaceFans threads. Keep it up!

  5. I’d still say that this has a lot to do with Kimi driving the same engine (PU) he’s driven every race in this modern turbo era, in a car designed under the same designer for all the past seasons he had with the Scuderia. Resta has so much experience marrying the chassis with the components for this particular PU it cannot be understated, IMO

    And they know how to talk to each other about the what and how and why’s with the car and develop it further faster

  6. I’d say on corporate level Alfa Romeo as a brand needed some image polishing and it is a clever move to put the most liked F1 driver at present in the Sauber. It is the reason of the VET/RAI split in the first place in my opinion and not the ‘underperforming’ last champion for Ferrari , who after uleashed , outperformed VET. Huge support from Ferrari ( who undoubtedly have the best PU over the last 2 years ) , huge talent and experience (no matter what people say) from Raikonen, huge encouragement for the team seeng all this progress. It would be nice to mix with the big 3, and why not see a few podiums.

    1. He’s so clearly having more fun now too. Have you ever heard him talk so much before?

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