Alfa Romeo are back in Formula 1, as a title sponsor and more of the team once known as Sauber, and they signalled their intent by hiring the most experienced driver on the grid to spearhead their campaign alongside a Ferrari-bred rookie.
The team means business this year and the no-nonsense Frederic Vasseur has revolutionised the team along with the owners, a rejuvenated Kimi Raikkonen will provide the benchmark for Antonio Giovinazzi to follow and the pair head to this weekend’s season opener in Melbourne as the outsiders to watch.
This is their preview of the Australian Grand Prix weekend, Round 1 of the 2019 Formula 1 World Championship, at Albert Park in Melbourne from 15 to 17 March.
Frédéric Vasseur, Team Principal Alfa Romeo Racing and CEO Sauber Motorsport AG: “Our arrival in Melbourne symbolizes the start of another big opportunity for our team after making excellent progress and showing our potential over the past year. We are eager to have a positive start to the 2019 season.”
“We have a great driver line-up and a strong backing from our team across all departments – at our factory as well as at the race track. I look forward to seeing where we stand in these early stages and we will push hard to continue working our way up the ranks in the coming months.”
Kimi Räikkönen: “There is always some uncertainty when you head to the first race of the season – you could even call it a mystery. Anything is possible. The midfield is tight and we can’t predict where we stand at the moment.”
“We have a lot of work ahead of us, but the team has shown massive development last year and I am confident that we can have a strong start in Melbourne.”
Antonio Giovinazzi: “I am enjoying every single moment of my first full Formula One season so far. Testing was pretty good, but it is hard to predict where we will be on the grid.”
“I have had a busy winter and have trained a lot to prepare for my first season in the best possible way. Now I feel ready to race – I can’t wait to go to the start and see the red light switch to green.”
Big Question: Can Sauber be best of the rest?