The first qualifying session of the year came and went – a little too quickly – as the sun shone on Spielberg: and just when we were hoping for a good result to set us up for a solid result in tomorrow’s season opener, things turned against us.
We will line up on the grid with Antonio Giovinazzi in P18 and Kimi Räikkönen in P19, both our drivers falling foul of circumstances that saw them bow out in Q1 when both had a chance to progress.
With a close midfield battle developing to claim a spot in Q2, a perfect effort was required: unfortunately, traffic scuppered Kimi’s chances of progression, while an off while on a fast lap brought an end to Antonio’s bid for a place in the top 15.
Not an ideal start, of course. But the weekend – and the season that is just dawning – is still long and tomorrow’s race offers an immediate chance of redemption. With hard work and a little bit of luck, we can still turn this Austrian Grand Prix right.
Frédéric Vasseur, Team Principal Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN and CEO Sauber Motorsport AG: “It’s been a challenging start to the weekend and we will have our work cut out in tomorrow’s race. We needed things to go our way and unfortunately we hit trouble with both cars, Kimi finding traffic on his flying lap and Antonio going wide when he was improving his time. It’s definitely not where we wanted to be on the grid and not ideal when looking at tomorrow, but we will need to be at our best to move up and recover a good result.”
Kimi Räikkönen: “We kind of expected a difficult day but that’s where we seem to be right now. We knew we would be on the limit, and finding a bit of traffic on my final lap did it for me. We have to find a way to regain our competitiveness against our rivals: it’s only the first race, we are not where we want to be but we have the time to improve. Tomorrow we will try to recover a good result: we have nothing to lose so we’ll just go out and try to do the best we can.”
Antonio Giovinazzi: “Not the start we wanted, but we have to focus on ways to make it better tomorrow. I pushed really hard on my final lap, I was on the limit and unfortunately I made a small mistake: I knew I had to try something special but it didn’t work out. We can hopefully make up some ground in the race: I think we are a bit stronger in the long run pace so if we get the strategy calls right and keep out of trouble in the opening laps, we can have some confidence in gaining some places as the race progresses.”