So close, yet so far
2020 FIA Formula One Belgian Grand Prix – Qualifying – Saturday
Weather: FP3: overcast 13.8-16.3°C air, 19-26.2°C track; Q: overcast, 16.2-16.3°C air, 24.6-24.2°C track
The Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps is the longest track on the modern Formula One calendar. Laps take in excess of 100 seconds, an eternity compared to some shorter layouts (and don’t get us started on the “Outer” Bahrain one!). Gaps tend to be bigger, the percentage of difference between times being dilated by the extensive distance covered.
To miss out on a slot in Q2 for less than a tenth – 0.087, to be precise – is therefore frustrating. A slot in Q2, perhaps two, was a concrete possibility but today it was not to be. Kimi went really close, finishing just a smidgeon outside the safe zone; Antonio wasn’t far either, just a few tenths away from a slot in the top 15. It was this close.
Disappointing as it may be, to be this close to a place in Q2 with both cars offers some optimism for tomorrow’s race. The field is bunched up, opportunities are bound to crop up and we’ll need to be ready to make the most of them. With good race pace and the right strategic choices, we will aim to be in the fight for the top ten.
And then there’s the rain, that ever-present threat here in Belgium. Precipitation could turn this race upside down: it’s always helpful to have a brolly at the ready here…
Frédéric Vasseur, Team Principal Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN and CEO Sauber Motorsport AG: “Being edged out of Q2 by such a small margin, less than a tenth, is always a disappointment, but we can still be positive about our pace. On some clean laps, we would have had the pace to make it through with both cars, and that would have been a very good result. As things are, we line up just behind the Ferraris and we take the fight on from here. We still have a chance to make up some ground tomorrow: the grid is tight and the race is going to be long. The conditions are a big question mark and they could provide some good opportunities to move up the standings towards the points.”
Kimi Räikkönen (car number 7):
Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN C39 (Chassis 05/Ferrari)
3rd practice: 16th / 1:44.932 (11 laps) / Q1: 16th / 1:43.743 (6 laps)
“We tried our best and today we really had a chance to go through, but we fell a bit short in the end. There was quite a bit of traffic on the outlap and the tyres were a bit too cold when I started the lap: I struggled with oversteer in turn one and lost some time compared to my previous lap. After that the car felt good, I went quicker than before but that wasn’t enough to make it to the top 15. It’s disappointing but that’s how it is. We’ll just see how it goes tomorrow and do our race: the rain would definitely make it a hectic day but we are not going to rely on that.”
Antonio Giovinazzi (car number 99):
Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN C39 (Chassis 04/Ferrari)
3rd practice: 19th / 1:45.190 (13 laps) / Q: 18th / 1:43.950 (6 laps)
“It was close and maybe there would have been a possibility to be in Q2, but I made a small mistake in turn eight and that was enough to lose the time we needed to make the cut. It’s disappointing but it is what it is. Tomorrow’s going to be another race full of battles, we will need to give our best and try to score some points. It may be wet and that would mean a chaotic race: whatever the conditions, however, we will need to do a good job and see where we end up.”