Alfa Romeo’s Xevi Pujolar: “The car ran reliably, and we were able to tick all the boxes in our list”

by Paul Hensby

Xevi Pujolar, the Head of Track Engineering at Alfa Romeo Racing Orlen, admits the first few days of pre-season testing are not about finding performance, but are for the team to understand the characteristics of the new car.

Speaking after the first day of the first test at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya that saw Alfa Romeo run reserve driver Robert Kubica and race driver Antonio Giovinazzi, Pujolar said it was positive to get through the day without any reliability concerns and to get through a number of their pre-set objectives.

Pujolar says times were not important but the fact they were able to go through their programme without any major issues says there is optimism that the team can make a leap forward in 2020.

“The first days of testing are not specifically about finding performance but understanding the new car and the way it behaves,” said Pujolar on Wednesday.  “Our programme was tailored to these aims and we can be satisfied with our first day of work.

“The car ran reliably, and we were able to tick all the boxes in our list; we definitely hope it is a sign of things to come for the remainder of these two weeks.”

Times ‘are of Little Value Right Now’ – Beat Zenhder

Kimi Räikkönen took over the driving duties on Thursday and was able to set the fastest time of the day. However, Beat Zehnder, the Sporting Director at Alfa Romeo, says the times mean very little at this time of the year.

Zehnder feels it is more important at this time to collect data and listen to the feedback from the driver in order to improve the car, although another positive was a second consecutive day without any issues with the C39-Ferrari.

“Today was another valuable day testing the C39, a day in which we were able to cover good mileage without any issues,” said Zehnder on Thursday.  “People may look at the times, but these are of little value right now: the main thing to focus on is the data we are collecting and listening to the drivers’ first reactions.

“Having two days of uninterrupted running, minus a red flag at the end of today, is where we want to be right now, but it’s still just the beginning of a very busy process of learning about the new car.”

‘The First Week was all about Reliability’ – Jan Monchaux

Giovinazzi returned to the car for the final day of the first test on Friday, and Jan Monchaux, the Technical Director of Alfa Romeo, said the whole week went well for the team.

Alfa Romeo completed the third-highest amount of mileage across the ten teams, with no major issues affecting any of the three days, but the hard work is still to come to improve the car ahead of next week’s second and final test and the first race of the season in Australia next month.

“We finish the first week of testing with the knowledge we did as good a job as we were planning,” said Monchaux.  “We ran without issues for three days, completing all the tests we had on our list and putting the third highest mileage of all teams under our belts.

“The first week was all about reliability and making sure all systems worked, while next week we will focus more on our car’s performance. Our job is of course far from finished: we will need to keep working hard, both at the factory and here at the track, in order to be ready for the season ahead.”

There was a lot of encouragement to take from the first test in Spain, according to three of Alfa Romeo’s top engineers – Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd

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