The first Sprint Grand Prix weekend in the history of Formula One went into the archives with a race that delivered thrills from lights to flag and in which Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN gave a good account of themselves, even though the ultimate reward of points remained just about elusive. Antonio Giovinazzi crossed the line in 13th and Kimi Räikkönen, who had run in the top ten for the whole first stint, was in P15 after a late contact dropped him down the order.
Starting in P13 and P15 after their good work in yesterday’s Sprint Qualifying, both Kimi and Antonio opted, as the majority of the field, to start on medium tyres. A good showing in the opening lap saw them running as high as ninth and tenth before the race was stopped because of a high-speed crash, thankfully with no serious consequences, by Max Verstappen. At the restart, our duo defended well, then settled in P10 and P13 as the race got into a rhythm.
After the only round of pit-stops in race conditions (both drivers having changed tyres under red flag conditions), both drivers pushed hard to make inroads in the top ten, with Kimi in 12th and Antonio in 15th. Kimi managed to climb back into P10, but the elation was short-lived as there was still some late drama, when a nice battle between the Finn and Sergio Perez ended up in contact, with Kimi spinning and having to recover from 16th. The two Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN cars eventually crossed the line in 13th (Antonio) and 15th (Kimi) – a result that unfortunately doesn’t reward a battling effort with points this weekend.
Frédéric Vasseur, Team Principal Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN: “Another race in which our good pace put us close to the points, but in which the reward eventually eluded us. We had a good start, we were able to run in the top ten both before the stops and at the time of Kimi’s contact with Checo, but in the end we just missed something to stay ahead: we continue to close the gap with the leaders, even on a track where we expected to struggle a bit more, and that should be a good sign ahead of other circuits where we can hope to extract more from our package.”
Kimi Räikkönen (car number 7):
Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN C41 (Chassis 02/Ferrari)
Race result: 15th
Fastest lap: 1:31.895 (L48)
Tyres: New Medium (2 laps) - New Medium (16 laps) – New Hard (33 laps)
“It wasn’t too bad a race until the contact with Perez. We knew it would be a difficult afternoon but we had a good start and were able to run in the top ten for a while. I had a nice battle with Sergio, we went side by side in quite a few corners but suddenly the space was gone: I am not sure what happened but I spun and that was it. In the end, we had to do a lot of defending, we were still missing something to be in the points until the flag. Hopefully the next tracks will play a bit more to our strengths and we can be more competitive.”
Antonio Giovinazzi (car number 99):
Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN C41 (Chassis 05/Ferrari)
Race result: 13th
Fastest lap: 1:32.346 (L49)
Tyres: New Medium (2 laps) - New Medium (22 laps) – New Hard (28 laps)
“It was a long race and not an overly exciting one for me, we had good pace but we couldn’t put it together when it mattered. We were in front of Tsunoda before the stops, but got stuck behind Russell and couldn’t get through. This wasn’t a track where overtaking is easy, and it’s quite a disappointment when you see that Yuki eventually finished in the points. We’ll need to learn from this and focus on Hungary. It’s a track with slow corners and no long straights, so it should fit us a bit better.”