Alfa Romeo Racing picked up by far their best result of the season at the Autódromo José Carlos Pace.
Kimi Räikkönen led team-mate Antonio Giovinazzi to fourth and fifth place finishes, a result that gives the team based in Switzerland a realistic shot of leapfrogging SportPesa Racing Point F1 Team in the Constructors’ Championship.
Räikkönen notched up his first points since the summer break after starting eighth on the grid. The Finn who had won his only Formula 1 Drivers’ Championship at this track in 2007, was able to keep his Alfa Romeo clear of trouble to bring home his best result with the team since his couple of fourth place finishes in the 2001 Austrian Grand Prix and 2001 Canadian Grand Prix under predecessors Sauber.
The forty year old was disappointed however, to not get past Carlos Sainz Jr. for what would have been the final podium position. Other than that, he shared that it was good for the team to get “big points with both cars”.
“It’s great to finally be able to celebrate our best result of the season as a team. It was a positive day and finally we were able to get the result we worked so hard for,” Räikkönen said.
“We kept on our own most of the race, but at the end we were in the middle of the action. I am disappointed we couldn’t get past Sainz for what turned out to be the final podium position: we had the speed, got a good run on him twice but couldn’t get past. But you always want something more: in the end, it’s good to get big points with both cars.”
Räikkönen’s points moves him up to twelfth and only two points behind Lando Norris and Sergio Pérez, who sits in the top ten.
Antonio Giovinazzi began the Brazilian Grand Prix in twelfth position and made up places at the start. The Italian fell back to the same position by the time the first Safety Car was deployed but took advantage of all the carnage to jump up to sixth on the road by the end.
Lewis Hamilton‘s time penalty promoted the 2016 GP2 Series runner-up to fifth, which increases Giovinazzi’s points tally from four to fourteen, moving him ahead of Romain Grosjean in the Drivers’ Championship to seventeenth.
“I am really, really happy today, for both myself and the team. What a great race, it was a fantastic way to celebrate my contract for next year with two cars in the points,” Giovinazzi added.
“We had a great start, the best this year – we made up three places and went straight into the top ten, but we still had a lot of work to do. The strategy was great, the restarts were very important, especially the final one when I was under pressure from Daniel [Ricciardo].
“The last ten laps were crazy, it was quite intense but we managed to stay ahead. Everyone in the team did a wonderful job and we can be really happy with our work. We are improving race after race and we can now focus on Abu Dhabi and on finishing the season in the right way.”
Alfa Romeo have breathing space over Haas F1 Team in eighth in the Constructors’ Championship, now that they have more than double the points over the American outfit. Their gap to sixth place Racing Point is ten points going into the final race of the season in Abu Dhabi.
Team Principal Frédéric Vasseur discovers the improvement that Alfa Romeo have made in the last few races and felt that finishing in the top five with both cars is a fine reward for their hard work.
“We can be really happy and proud with this result. To bring two cars in the points just outside the podium is the reward for the hard work of everyone in the team,” Vasseur shared.
“We didn’t let our head drop in the races where we were unlucky and now we can celebrate our best result of the season. There was no defining factor today: everyone did a great job – in the cockpit, in the pitstops, on the pitwall and back at base.
“We have made a lot of progress in the last few races, but it wasn’t until today that it showed. Now we can look forward to the chance to do another good race in Abu Dhabi and finish the season on a high.”