September 22nd, 2019

#SinGP: Details that matter

2019 FIA Formula One Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix – Race – Sunday
Weather: overcast and humid, 30.2-29.5°C air, 37.2-34.2°C track

When Antonio Giovinazzi leapt into the lead of the Singapore Grand Prix, we knew it was not going to last until the end. Our man was yet to pit, unlike the earlier front-runners, and with the race extending deeper into the night, it was a given that he’d end up relinquishing his position at the front of the field. And yet, for a little while we dreamt about circumstances that would produce a different outcome – and so very nearly saw our wishes come true.

In the end, George Russell’s race-ending impact with the wall, which caused the first Safety Car period of the night, came a handful of laps too late to favour Antonio, who had by then already stopped and rejoined lower in the field. But that the balance of the race – for our perspective, at least – hung in so thin a balance shows how small details can still make a huge difference in Formula One. The same can be said for Kimi, who retired from the race after suffering damage in a clash with Daniil Kvyat – a wheel-banging affair that would have often resulted in little more than a scuffed wheelrim. Again, tiny details result in a hugely different outcome.

As the fireworks light up the Marina Bay sky, we leave the Singapore night with one more point to our tally – a reward for our big efforts which, however, feels a bit short of what we deserved. We leave the city-state, though, with the feeling we can still play a part in this end of season. We are told Antonio’s stint in the lead was the first time a non-top-three teams driver was in P1 since 2015. It may or may not be the case, but we embrace that feeling nonetheless. When small details matter so much, a small motivational boost can also make a big difference.

Frédéric Vasseur, Team Principal Alfa Romeo Racing and CEO Sauber Motorsport AG:
“Finishing with one point in such a rollercoaster of a race is positive, but there is a bit of regret for how the night unfolded. Antonio ran an excellent race, hardly doing anything wrong, and had the Safety Car come out just a few laps earlier, we could have been talking about an incredible result for him. Antonio still managed to rescue a point despite a damaged car, but the feeling of “what if” remains. Kimi had also ran a very solid race, making up places from his starting position and looking set for points. Unfortunately he was caught in an accident with Kvyat when battling against degrading tyres and his race was over. In the end, a point is a point but we will be aiming for more in Sochi next week.”

Kimi Räikkönen (car number 7):
Alfa Romeo Racing C38 (Chassis 06/Ferrari)
Result: DNF
Fastest lap: 1:36.217.11
Tyres: New Medium (15 laps) – New Hards (34 laps)

“Not exactly the end of the race I was hoping for but it is what it is. My tyres were degrading and whilst I could manage to stay in position after the first restart, at the second the tyres were too cold and so I lost three positions and from then on I was struggling. The incident with Daniil Kvyat ended my race but I was going no where anyway. When I looked at the straight he was quite far behind, but when I was turning in I saw him in the corner of my eye but then it was too late to react.”

Antonio Giovinazzi (car number 99):
Alfa Romeo Racing C38 (Chassis 04/Ferrari)
Result: 10th
Fastest lap: 1:58.51.522
Tyres: New Medium (33 laps) – New Hards (2 laps) – New Soft (26 laps)

“It’s was big battle of a race. I am happy with bringing home a point for me and the team, but I still have the feeling we could have finished higher up. We stretched our first stint on mediums longer than ideal, although it’s easy to look back at it with the benefit of hindsight. Had we stopped earlier, we could have perhaps been ahead of Norris in P7. I was struggling at the end of the tyres’ life and the clash with Daniel [Ricciardo] didn’t help either, as I was left with damage to my front suspension for the rest of the race. The steering wheel pulled to one side and it was a real struggle, but I really wanted that point and I fought until the end for this position. Leading the race and fighting at the top against the Ferraris and Mercedes was a great feeling, and I hope someone at home took a screenshot of the standings at the time!”