Antonio Giovinazzi admits he cannot believe that he will be racing in his homeland for a third time in 2020 this weekend, with the Italian taking part in the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari.
The Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN team confirmed this week that Giovinazzi will remain with the outfit for a third consecutive season in 2021, but his immediate focus is to break into the top ten for only the third time this season.
In his two previous races in Italy, Giovinazzi finished sixteenth at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza, but he was one of those eliminated in the safety car restart crash at the Autodromo Internazionale del Mugello. He hopes the race at Imola will bring him better luck and a top ten finish on Sunday.
“This will be the third home race for me this season – I still can’t believe I had this opportunity,” said Giovinazzi. “To be racing in Italy is always a special occasion for me, and I hope we will have the chance to put up a good show for everyone watching from home, especially at a time in which Italy is still reeling from a tough year.
“Imola is a legendary track: both incredible and tragic pages of motorsport history have been written there and you can’t escape feeling it the moment you step into the circuit. I only raced there once, in F3 in 2014 when I finished third, but to stand on that podium is a unique experience.
“The dream this weekend would be to have a great race, score points on home soil and celebrate a special weekend in the best way: our recent performances have given us some confidence we can put in a fight for a place in the top ten.”
“Hopefully we can get back in the points this week” – Kimi Räikkönen
Team-mate Kimi Räikkönen was also confirmed to be remaining with Alfa Romeo in 2021 this week, and he is the only driver on the grid to have raced at Imola in Formula 1 machinery.
Räikkönen has not had the best of luck at the track in the past but did secure a podium back in 2003, but looking at his results in 2020, he is hoping the track enables him to break into the top ten for only the second time this year. His only points finish came in the Tuscan Grand Prix where he finished ninth.
He was agonizingly close to scoring points in last weekend’s Portuguese Grand Prix after finishing eleventh, but his first lap performance where he climbed from sixteenth on the grid to run sixth was stunning to see and showed the Finn still has what it takes to compete at the highest level.
“It’s nice to come back to Imola as it’s a cool track with a lot of history,” said Räikkönen. “A few people have mentioned the times in which I retired from the lead with mechanical issues, but I also had a podium there in 2003 so things are not always so bad.
“In any case, there’s no point looking back at what we did so many years ago, I’d very much rather focus on this weekend. The race in Portugal was quite fun, especially in the first couple of laps, but in the end we left with nothing, so obviously we need to make one more step forward.
“We need to move up the grid on Saturday and that will give us a better chance in the race, as our pace on Sundays is not too bad. We are working hard and hopefully we can get back in the points this week.”
“We have to extract all we can in the single practice session” – Frédéric Vasseur
Frédéric Vasseur, the Team Principal at Alfa Romeo, says this weekend’s experiment of just the single free practice session means the team will have to extract everything they can in a short amount of time.
Everyone had a similar experience at the Nürburgring when the first two practice sessions on Friday were washed out, but on the back of having only an hour of track time ahead of Qualifying, Alfa Romeo were able to score a point then and are aiming for a similar result this weekend.
“The Imola weekend is another experiment in this 2020, with the shorter programme meaning we have to extract all we can in the single practice session on Saturday: it’s not too different from the times we had a washout on Friday, most recently at the Nürburgring, so I don’t think it will take anyone by surprise,” said Vasseur.
“Last time it happened, however, we had a fairly interesting race and we came home with a point, so hopefully we will be among those adapting better to these novel circumstances.
“We saw some more performance from our team in the last few rounds and now it’s time to keep pushing to make the last step needed to be in the top ten more regularly.”