October 31st, 2020

Qualifying blues in Imola

2020 FIA Formula One Emilia Romagna Grand Prix – Qualifying – Saturday
Weather: FP: sunny 15.8-17.7°C air, 18.3-23.0°C track; Q: sunny, 19.3-18.7°C air, 26.1-23.9°C track

And all of a sudden, it was Saturday. They say time flies when you’re having fun, or when you’re really busy, but time also flies when you chop 24 hours out of your schedule and skip two practice sessions: either way, this weekend feels like it’s just started even though, owing to its reduced programme, qualifying is already in the history books and the race is all there is left to run.

Adapting to a new weekend schedule is a challenge in itself: to do so on a track on which nobody has driven in more than a decade just makes things harder. And yet, things were looking positively for the team as a solid single practice session gave us enough to work with and improve the car ahead of qualifying.

A place in Q2, if not two, appeared within reach as the first segment of qualifying unfolded. Both drivers felt at ease with their package – but when it mattered, things didn’t really fall into place. Brilliant laps by Kimi, the best of which would have put him up into P13 at the end of Q1, were invalidated by a track limits infraction in each of his runs; Antonio ran into traffic in the dying moments of the session. What we were left with, P18 and P20 on the grid, is obviously disappointing – even more so when looking back at the way qualifying unfolded.

On a track notorious for being a tough cookie for would-be overtakers, starting at the back will provide quite the challenge. We will need one of our rocket starts tomorrow, paired with good calls from the pit wall, to make up some ground into the places that matter. Getting to Saturday might have been a flash, on this unusual weekend, but we’re not ready yet to write off this race in the blink of an eye.

Frédéric Vasseur, Team Principal Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN and CEO Sauber Motorsport AG:
“Knowing we had set a lap good enough for P13, only to see it be cancelled is frustrating, but it is what it is. The potential of the car is there but today was clearly one of those days where things just don’t go your way and you can’t achieve what’s within your reach. Of all tracks to be at the back, this is one of the worst: we will need something special, especially in the opening stages, to get something out of this race but we will give everything we have.”

Kimi Räikkönen (car number 7):
Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN C39 (Chassis 05/Ferrari)
Practice: 17th / 1:16.684 (43 laps) / Q1: 18th / 1:15.953 (10 laps)

“The car improved a lot from the morning to the afternoon and it felt quite good. We would have made it to Q2 with our fastest lap, but unfortunately it got cancelled: what happened is disappointing, especially because this seems to be one of those tracks where the field is really bunched up, but complaining about how things went won’t change the end result. The race, starting where we are, won’t be easy but we have to do what we can and see where we end up.”

Antonio Giovinazzi (car number 99):
Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN C39 (Chassis 04/Ferrari)
Practice: 15th / 1:16.564 (33 laps) / Q1: 20th / 1:16.208 (8 laps)

“The potential we had in the car would have warranted a much better result but we weren’t able to get a clear lap. The first run was ok and we were looking quite good, but both my push laps in the second run were compromised by traffic. We knew this would be an issue here but it’s still really frustrating. Starting at the back is not ideal, of course, but from last we can only go ahead. We will give it our best shot: overtaking will not be easy, we need a good start and a good strategy to make up some ground.”