Kimi Räikkönen has fond memories of the Autodromo Internazionale del Mugello as Formula 1 stays in Italy for a second consecutive weekend for the Tuscan Grand Prix.
Mugello hosted Räikkönen’s first test in a Formula 1 car with the Sauber F1 Team back in 2000, but he has not raced at the track, and he does not believe what he did twenty years ago will help him in any way this weekend as the circuit hosts its first ever Grand Prix.
The Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN driver ran as high as second in last weekend’s Italian Grand Prix at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza before fading to thirteenth at the chequered flag due to tyre wear, but the Finn is eager to return to the track to fight for his first points of 2020 this weekend.
“The Mugello circuit is where I had my first ever test with Sauber, back in 2000, but I seriously doubt those days twenty years ago are going to give me that much of a competitive advantage,” said Räikkönen.
“It’s going to be nice to be back on that track with the same team I was there with back in the day, but I don’t think we will have a lot of time to indulge in reminiscing about the past. We’re there to race and hopefully we can have a good weekend.
“The track is new to everybody and that could make things interesting, at least because nobody has any data about it and the drivers will need to get to grips with the circuit. We have been making some steps forward, both in qualifying and in the race but we haven’t been able to bring home some points yet, so that has to remain our objective for the weekend.”
“My second home race of the season and another chance to make progress” – Antonio Giovinazzi
Team-mate Antonio Giovinazzi was also running inside the top five last weekend at Monza, but the Italian was handed a ten-second stop and go penalty for pitting whilst the pit lane was closed on Sunday, which dropped him to the rear of the field.
Giovinazzi, who scored points in the season-opening Austrian Grand Prix but has yet to finish inside the top ten again, says he hopes to build on the steps the team has been making in recent races that has seen them close the gap to those in front.
“My second home race of the season and another chance to make progress,” said Giovinazzi. “I have never raced at Mugello in my career, although I did some testing there in 2018 before racing in Le Mans, but I remember it as a very fun track to drive.
“It’ll also be the first race of the season where we have some fans, although not many, so I am keen to race and give them a good show. Last weekend we had some positives and some negatives: we seemed to be a bit more on the pace and we were able to be in some fights, especially at the start, but then the penalty effectively put an end to my race.
“We can build on the steps forward we have made and aim to make up some more ground this weekend.”
“We can’t let fatigue get in the way of our work” – Frédéric Vasseur
Frédéric Vasseur, the Team Principal at Alfa Romeo, says the team cannot afford to let fatigue get in the way this weekend at Mugello, despite the race being the ninth event in just eleven weeks following the resumption of the season after delays caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Alfa Romeo has often struggled for performance in 2020, particularly in Qualifying, but Vasseur says there is a lot of hard work being done behind the scenes in a bid to improve their pace and move the team back into regular points finishes during the second half of the year.
“We are coming to the end of the third triple-header of the season, but we can’t let fatigue get in the way of our work,” said Vasseur. “We have been making some progress, although the standings don’t show it yet, and we have to keep pushing like hell to close the gap with the cars ahead and fight for the top ten consistently.
“We have seen last weekend that races can get turned upside down very quickly and we need to be ready to make the most of every opportunity. In Monza, circumstances went against us but next time a twist could work better for us and we’ll need to be sharp to make it count.
“Racing week after week doesn’t leave much time to catch up but everyone, both at the track and back home in Switzerland, is doing their best to improve.”