A rollercoaster of emotions
2020 FIA Formula One Italian Grand Prix – Race – Sunday
Weather: sunny, 27.9-27.6°C air, 45.5-36.1°C track
Excitement. Disappointment. Hope. Heartbreak. If this reads like a list of very contrasting emotions, it’s because it is: the Italian Grand Prix was a rollercoaster, pitching great highs and deep troughs that left us clutching the armrests of our chairs and slumping in despair in alternating fashion.
The race had started really well for the team, another good launch promoting Kimi and Antonio to the low teen positions, fighting ahead of the Ferraris and chasing the top ten closely. It had had a sudden twist just as the pit stop window was opening, a Safety Car caused by Magnussen’s stricken car shuffling the pack and bringing our cars to new heights, P4 and P5. It was a feat helped by some sterling work by the pit crew, which produced the fastest pit stop of the race, a 2.43s flash on Antonio’s car, and the fifth fastest overall, 2.83, on Kimi’s. But what the Gods of F1 give, they can also take away. A red flag, caused by Leclerc’s (thankfully consequence-free) crash, brought the pack back to the pits. It gifted a free pit stop to the whole field – one that, sadly, would change the complexion of the race.
With no fresh medium rubber left, having started the race with both cars on the yellow-banded compound, the team opted to go soft – the only tyres that would allow us to fight at the standing start. It was a choice that kept Kimi, now up in P2, in that position in the opening stages of the final 20-lap sprint then unfolding. It was a choice, however, that left us exposed as the other teams, able to mount new, longer-lasting medium tyres, made their way through the field. Antonio had fallen victim of a penalty, relegating him to last; Kimi fought valiantly, but had no tyres left to stop sliding down to 13th at the chequered flag.
It was a crazy Sunday, one that sadly ended with no reward for us. Emotions ran high all over the pitlane, ranging from one end of the spectrum to the other in a race that will be one day seen as a classic. It wasn’t to be for us – but we’ll be looking to the next chance to do well, next week in Mugello.
Frédéric Vasseur, Team Principal Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN and CEO Sauber Motorsport AG: “It was a very bizarre race, one that has given us the full spectrum of emotions. We made a good start and our race pace was good in the first stint. The Safety car shuffled the pack and we found ourselves towards the front of the field, but unfortunately we picked up a penalty for Antonio at his pit stop, which compromised his race. Under the red flag we had to choose between the only tyres we had left available, the used hard tyres we had on or new softs, as we had no more mediums left. We went for the softs: they helped us at the restart, with Kimi running up to P2, but unfortunately our rivals’ tyre advantage in the long run meant we ended up losing ground as the race progressed. We were close to a good result but it is what it is: we made progress both in terms of qualifying and race pace and we need to keep pushing to improve.”
Kimi Räikkönen (car number 7):
Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN C39 (Chassis 05/Ferrari)
Race result: 13th
Fastest lap: 1:24.835
Tyres: New Medium (17 laps) – New Hard (6 laps) – New Soft (27)
“It was a very disappointing result in the end but there was nothing we could really do. We only had soft tyres left at the red flag, after using mediums at the start, which effectively put us in a very difficult position. The soft tyres were good to fight and defend in the first few laps after the restart, but when they faded away we were left exposed. Until the red flag we were in a good position: the car felt good and things had turned pretty positively for us, but after that we really couldn’t fight.”
Antonio Giovinazzi (car number 99):
Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN C39 (Chassis 04/Ferrari)
Race result: 16th
Fastest lap: 1:24.856
Tyres: New Medium (20 laps) – New Hard (6 laps) – New Soft (27 laps)
“We end up without points after such a crazy race, which is a shame as things looked good at the beginning. In hindsight, knowing how things unfolded, we know that a top ten finish would have been unlikely, but it’s still disappointing to have a penalty put you far at the back of the field when running in the top positions. We will need to investigate how the situation that led to the stop and go unfolded: in the moments after a safety car is called, everything happens really quickly and you react to what’s happening around you: I was just focused on getting back to the pits. Afterwards, I was too far back to do anything, but this is racing. I just need to put this behind me and focus on next week race, another home Grand Prix for me, to try to do a better job.”