Starting in 2019, we saw a new name on the entry list: the iconic Alfa Romeo, the name Sauber was gone but they kept the sequel chassis number, C38.
They came to pre-season testing with a car that looked a bit like the 2018 Ferrari but with a radical front wing design. Straight out of the box, it looked promising for the season to come.
Australia. First weekend of the season and it started out great for the team. Raikkonen managed to qualify in 9th on Saturday while Giovinazzi made Q2 and qualified in 14th position. At the finish flag on Sunday, Raikkonen got his first points of the season in 8th but Giovinazzi had less luck and ended up in 15th.
Bahrain. After a strong start of the season, on Saturday, Raikkonen had another great qualifying and ended up in 9th while Giovinazzi was less fortunate and didn’t get out of Q1 and had to start from 16th on the grid. Raikkonen had another solid race with a 7th place finish but Giovinazzi just didn’t make the points as he stranded in 11th position at the finish line.
China. It wasn’t the greatest start to the weekend as Raikkonen didn’t get out of Q2 on Saturday and had to start 13th but for Giovinazzi, it was even worse as he didn’t manage to set a time at all and started 19th. On Sunday, Raikkonen showed he has the experience as he finished in the points again in 9th while Giovinazzi managed to climb up to 15th.
Baku. On Saturday, the team was hoping that the Ferrari engine could give something extra on the long straight and at first, it was a great result as Giovinazzi qualified in 8th and Raikkonen in 9th. It was already known Giovinazzi would drop 10 places due to new engine and CE but the surprise came as Raikkonen got excluded from qualifying due to a failed front wing deflection test. Raikkonen had to start from the pitlane on Sunday but had a great race and finished 10th. Giovinazzi, who started from 17th, couldn’t make enough ground and ended 12th when the flag dropped.
Spain. Almost all team brought updates but Alfa Romeo couldn’t get the most out of theirs on Saturday as Giovinazzi couldn’t get himself out of Q1 and started 18th and Raikkonen got stuck in Q2 and started 14th.It all had to be done on Sunday but none of the 2 drivers really excelled as Raikkonen finished where he started in 14th and Giovinazzi moved up 2 spots to finish 16th.
Monaco. It was a race to forget for the Hinwil based team. On Saturday, Raikkonen and Giovinazzi managed to get into Q2 but that was it. The Finn got to start 14th while the Italian qualified beside the Finn in 15th. The narrow streets of the principality made sure there wasn’t much to gain on Sunday as Raikkonen came home in 17th while Giovinazzi finished 19th after he got spun around and was 2 laps down.
Six races done and what have we found out so far?
Alfa Romeo benefits hugely from Ferrari connections. Their radical front wing design seems to work BUT it is Raikkonen who gets the points while Giovinazzi is clearly not up to speed. The next races should provide more answers as to where the team really stands.
Canada. On the Island near Montreal, it was a better Saturday for Giovinazzi as he qualified in 13th position while teammate Raikkonen couldn’t get out of Q1 and was required to start in 17th position. In an eventful Sunday race, both drivers couldn’t get the maximum out of the car and Giovinazzi finished 13th and Raikkonen 15th.
France. Back in Europe and things looked a bit better on Saturday when Giovinazzi qualified 10th. Raikkonen had trouble in Q2 and only made it to 12th position. The Sunday however, would be a different story. Giovinazzi couldn’t hold on to a great start and dropped down to 16th at the finish while Raikkonen showed his experience and worked his way up to a solid 7th position.
Austria. What would end up as a crazy F1 weekend, started great for Alfa Romeo on Saturday as Raikkonen qualified 7th and Giovinazzi 8th. Sunday was a fruitful race as Raikkonen ended up in 9th but Giovinazzi finished in 10th and scored his first point in F1, although it cost him a lock of his hair.
England. Saturday at Silverstone but both drivers couldn’t get the car in the perfect operating window as Giovinazzi qualified 11th, 1 grid position in front of Raikkonen in 12th. In a somewhat crazy race on Sunday, Giovinazzi spun off and had a DNF behind his name while Raikkonen could manage to score some points for him and the team as he crossed the line in 8th position.
Germany. A weekend with mixed track conditions but on Saturday, Raikkonen put the C38 on 5th position. Giovinazzi was not so lucky and qualified 11th. The race on Sunday proved to a bitter pill as at first Raikkonen finished in 7th and Giovinazzi in 8th but a few hours after the race, they both received a 30s. time penalty for use of driver aids at the start. This meant they were classified in 12th (Raikkonen) and 13th (Giovinazzi)
Hungary. The final race weekend before the summer break and it wasn’t the best start on Saturday when Raikkonen qualified 10th, Giovinazzi qualified 14th but got a penalty for impeding. Sunday race was another exciting one which saw Raikkonen score points by finishing 7th while Giovinazzi came home in 18th, 2 laps down.
Now it’s the summer break so what did we learn so far?
It seems as if the team has the potential to be a solid midfield team towards top 6 but it is thanks to Raikkonen and his experience that make him score points that has Alfa Romeo in 7th position in the constructors’ championship so far.
Giovinazzi really needs to step it up, not only during qualifying but certainly during the race or they lose the grip on higher positions with Renault just 1 position higher with 7 more points.