Alfa Romeo Racing rues poor opening lap in Sochi

by Ed Spencer

Alfa Romeo Racing blamed a dreadful opening lap of Russian Grand Prix as a cause for what saw both Kimi Räikkönen and Antonio Giovinazzi miss out on points.

In what was a nightmare weekend for the Italian team which saw them miss out on Q3, Räikkönen jumped the start and then copped a drive-through penalty for his troubles whilst Giovinazzi was the main catalyst in a first-lap collision which saw both Romain Grosjean and Daniel Ricciardo having to retire from the race due to the damage caused by the crash.

Team manager Frédéric Vasseur was disconsolate with his team’s performance.

Unfortunately, this was another race that was compromised in the opening lap. Antonio made a good start and looked set to gain some places,” said Vasseur, “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.

Räikkönen took full responsibility for his jump-start penalty as the Finn continued his run of pointless race weekends to five as he could only manage thirteenth.

“It was a very difficult race from the start. I jumped the lights and from that point, we knew a penalty was coming,” said Räikkönen.

“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 thirteenth.

“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.

After finishing in the points in Singapore and Monza, Giovinazzi came back to earth with a bang in Russia as the Italian limped home to fifteenth following on from his first lap antics.

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”, said Giovinazzi.

“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.

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