Few teams have disappointed in Formula 1 this season as bitterly and as frequently as Alfa Romeo. This is a team, that at the end of eleven races sits on three points. Read that again. Let that sink in. An Alfa Romeo, powered by a Ferrari engine and being piloted by a driver who happens to be the most experienced man on the grid and yet, that’s the result in the end, which would only inspire one adjective- eyesore.
Why It’s Been a Tough Ride for Alfa and Its Romeos Thus Far?
But then, who says Formula 1 is a predictable sport? In a contest ever mired by the unexpected- think Ocon’s Hungarin win, which no pundit could ever have foreseen or predicted- Formula 1 pans out pretty evenly.
You win some, you lose some.
Though where the 2020 season was concerned, Alfa Romeo weren’t nearly as bad as they have been this championship, one utterly defined by the ongoing Hamilton versus Verstappen show.
To those who may not remember it all too well, it took the Hinwill-headquartered side no fewer than one race to get going last year. In the 2020 curtain-raiser, held at Spielberg’s Austrian GP, Antonio Giovinazzi, who blitzed a fine opening lap ended up ninth and thus earning two strong points.
However, in complete contrast to a buoyant run experienced last year, in 2021, Alfa Romeo have been vapid, and beyond anything else, seem incapable of mustering a fight.
Yet, to a few among us, this may sound like some doomsday theory or hitting below the belt for the simple reason that in the very recent Grand Prix, i.e., the 2021 Hungarian GP, Kimi scored points and beat Daniel Ricciardo of all drivers.
But must it also be asked, didn’t Raikkonen, much like Sainz, get lucky in the wake of Sebastian Vettel’s disqualification? While to his credit, Kimi drove a strong race, experiencing much better traction on twisty corners and better race pace than some of his previous efforts, such as Spain, what may have helped the team even better would’ve been Giovinazzi finishing in points.
Though one of the great nadirs of the Alfa Romeo outfit this season has been their run-ins with poor strategising and team decisions from a strategy standpoint. In races like Baku, Portugal, they made Raikkonen run on a rather long stint, which eventually lacked the bite in the overcut they were trying to execute on the likes of Alpha Tauri and Williams, their closest and most plausible grid rivals.
At Hungary, the team saw Raikkonen being released in the way of Haas’ Mazepin. While it ended the Russian’s race, it didn’t help Kimi’s cause one bit with the Iceman earning a 10-second time penalty.
Yet, there’s something that team principal Frederic Vasseur considers vital for the Ferrari-powered outfit, so much so that he’s confident about the iconic racing outfit enjoying a great future.
Though, it must be said, where futures are concerned, then not an awful lot of time rests with the current pair of Raikkonen and Giovinazzi, whose contracts run their end with the completion of 2021 season.
So why is Vasseur, instead of being anxious, feeling a sense of gladness where his team’s imminent future is concerned?
Let’s hear it from the mild-mannered Frenchman himself:
I think we are in a good position because we are ambitious,” Vasseur told a major auto portal. “We are going up in terms of partners, sponsors and so on. The portfolio is going up,” he’d add.
Where speaking on the fate of the drivers, the following is what one of the current paddock’s most recognisable faces had to say-
“The partnership with Alfa is solid and a long-term partnership. Ferrari is doing a good job, they are improving also on their side… and we are improving on the chassis. I have tons of green lights, and I want to be very positive. Now I have to do my job to be able to convince them.”
Another Prospect for Alfa Romeo
That being said, one of the prospect recruits at some point in time could well be young Frenchman Theo Pourchaire, who’s also test driven the Alfa Romeo car in 2021 Hungarian GP’s aftermath. Along with that, that there’s Callum Ilott already as the test driver of the team, if Alfa indeed go for an entirely new pairing, what could be better than having two FIA F2 drivers compete in the same marquee?
But for that to happen, it will come down to taking some tough calls, such as asking Raikkonen and Giovinazzi to step away, unless they perform brilliantly in what’s left of the season for the team to reconsider the future plans. Another situation could be when one among them, feasibly Kimi, calls time on his career.
Regardless, the days to come are filled with anticipation and hope for some ascendency for a team that looked in its elements back in 2019!
Main Image Credits- Embed from Getty Images