September 29th, 2019

#SocGP: Black, Black Sea

2019 FIA Formula One VTB Russian Grand Prix – Race – Sunday
Weather: sunny, 21.7-22.7°C air, 35.1-33.5°C track

Sochi is a lovely location: warmly on the shores of the Black Sea, with an impressive mountain backdrop and a growing sporting heritage at the Olympic Park – we can’t think of any other sporting venue that hosted the Olympic Games, World Cup matches and a Formula One Grand Prix.

Unfortunately, the pleasantness of the setting didn’t translate in a happy race weekend for the team. A difficult qualifying was followed by a very unlucky race, where our good pace was nullified by a wretched opening lap. By the time the field crossed the finish line for the first time, we had one car with a damaged front wing and one burdened with a drive-through penalty – enough to make even the staunchest optimist reconsider the chances of a good end result.

We fought. We got back into the race, even, thanks to the Safety Car bunching up the field. But in the end, that wasn’t enough to get to the points we so desperately wanted. We leave for Hinwil eager to get back on track and prove our doubters wrong, but there’s no denying our mood is pretty dark right now. The Sea is not the Blackest thing around here tonight…

Frédéric Vasseur, Team Principal Alfa Romeo Racing and CEO Sauber Motorsport AG:
“Unfortunately, this was another race that was compromised in the opening lap. Antonio made a good start and looked set to gain some places, but he found himself squeezed between Grosjean and Ricciardo. There was nothing he could do to avoid contact and sadly this damaged the car. We pitted Antonio for hards and a new nose, and then later on for softs during a Safety Car period, but he was always going to struggle to make up the gap. As for Kimi, a penalty for a false start meant coming back into the point from the back of the field was a tall order. It has been a few tough races, so we need to regroup and find our groove again for the final races of the season.”

Kimi Räikkönen (car number 7):
Alfa Romeo Racing C38 (Chassis 06/Ferrari)
Result: 13th
Fastest lap: 1:34.47.902
Tyres: Medium (9 laps) – Medium (18 laps) – Soft (26 laps)

“It was a very difficult race from the start. I jumped the lights and from that point we knew a penalty was coming. We tried our best and closed the gap with the rest of the field thanks to the Safety Car, but in the end we couldn’t make up any more places than P13. The last four races have been very difficult for us, so we have to understand what has gone wrong and try to improve on it. We looked really strong in Spa, so the potential is there: we just have to get back to that level.”

Antonio Giovinazzi (car number 99):
Alfa Romeo Racing C38 (Chassis 04/Ferrari)
Result: 15th
Fastest lap: 1:34.52.338
Tyres: Soft (2 laps) – Hard (25 laps) – Medium (26 laps)

“It was definitely not the kind of race I was hoping for but it is what it is. I got stuck in the middle between Ricciardo and Grosjean on lap one: I don’t know if Daniel knew I had Romain on the outside, but I ended up like in a sandwich. I tried to lift off and avoid contact, but that wasn’t enough and we touched. We’ll need to check if there was any further damage as it was quite a big hit and the car didn’t really feel right afterwards.”