July 12th, 2019

#SilGP: Timing Matters

2019 FIA Formula One Rolex British Grand Prix – Practice – Friday
Weather: FP1: cloudy, some light rain, 19.4-20.3°C air, 31-33.1°C track; FP2: mostly sunny, 21.7-21.8°C air, 36.4-37.3°C track

0.307. Three hundred and seven thousandths of a second. This is the time it takes light to cover a distance of little more than 57,000 miles. In this time, a hummingbird flaps its wings 30 times (but, on average, a human can blink just once). It’s a tiny amount of time – but it’s the time that covers ten drivers in the FP2 standings, from P8 to P17.

That the majority of the current field is gathered in such a small span is testament to the competitiveness of this year’s midfield. But it’s also testament to the incredible technological advances our sport has done in the last seven decades. Only when the pursuit of perfection and progress reaches these heights, the differences between a great and a poor result lie within a blink of an eye.

It wasn’t always like this, alas. Our beloved Alfetta, which we proudly displayed in the pitlane alongside the 2019 C38, experienced a Formula One of manual timings and wildly spread gaps. This was particularly evident in the pit stop. Few moments highlight the incredible advance of F1 technology like a tyres change. The perfectly choreographed routine of men, women and machine sees nearly 25 bodies and a car dance in and out of the pit box in about two seconds.

By contrast, the Alfa Romeo team of 1950 – which claimed the fastest pit stop of the inaugural championship race in Silverstone – completed the operation in 22 seconds. Fair enough, they had no wheel guns: unlocking and locking the bolt was an operation involving a lead hammer, some heavy blows and (probably) supreme disregard for one’s fingers. Refueling – not something our crews have to contend with nowadays – featured a fireproof blanket thrown on a driver’s head and shoulders.

They were different times. But the fastest pit stop was the fastest pit stop – whatever the tech involved. Eye blinks or 40 winks, it was still a performance that powered the Alfa Romeo team to the win.

Kimi Räikkönen (car number 7):
Alfa Romeo Racing C38 (Chassis 04/Ferrari)
1st practice: 18th / 1:30.747 (12 laps) / 2nd practice: 13th / 1:28.126 (33 laps)

“The problems in the morning made it difficult as Silverstone can be tricky when you don’t get enough laps in, but I tried to make up for lost time in the afternoon. Still a lot of work has to be done, we need to sort a few issues, but the last few laps felt quite okay.”

Antonio Giovinazzi (car number 99):
Alfa Romeo Racing C38 (Chassis 02/Ferrari)
1st practice: 15th / 1:30.099 (24 laps) / 2nd practice: 17th / 1:28.294 (28 laps)

“Overall, it was a good first day of action. The track was not as bumpy as it was on my last time here and I was able to get into a good rhythm quite soon. The wind was making it quite hard out there – it kept changing lap after lap – but in the end it’s the same for everyone so we need to adapt to it. I did a small mistake on my lap on softs but I am satisfied with the pace we showed. Everyone is so close in the midfield so we need to find the best setup tonight and have the best possible car to get a good result in qualifying tomorrow.”