Kimi Räikkönen, the most experienced driver in Formula 1 history, says he will be attacking this weekend’s Portuguese Grand Prix at Portimão like any other race, even though the circuit is hosting a Formula 1 race for the very first time.
The Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN driver says everyone arrives at Portimão without any knowledge of the track in current machinery so it should level out the playing field.
Räikkönen says Alfa Romeo must hit the ground running and continue their recent improvements if they are to score points for only the fourth time in 2020, with the Finn only achieving one top ten finish so far this season.
“Portugal is a new track for all of us and I don’t think any driver has any experience there in current machinery, so we are all starting on the same level,” said Räikkönen. “At the cost of sounding repetitive, the situation as we go to Portugal is not too different from all the other races.
“We need to do a good job both on Saturday and Sunday, the car is improving but if we make our life hard in qualifying it is quite difficult to make up ground in the race. We have seen in the last few races that we can be competitive so hopefully we will be in the mix this weekend as well.”
“The last few races gave us a welcome bit of confidence” – Antonio Giovinazzi
Team-mate Antonio Giovinazzi is responsible for the other two top ten finishes this season, and the Italian was a points scorer last time out in the Eifel Grand Prix, where he finished tenth.
Giovinazzi says the point earned at the Nürburgring should bring some much-needed confidence to Alfa Romeo as they have struggled towards the back of the pack for the majority of the season to date, and the objective should be to do the same again this weekend in Portugal, a track he last raced on in Formula 3 machinery five years ago.
“The last few races gave us a welcome bit of confidence: it’s always a positive feeling to fight in the top ten and bring home points, so that has to remain the objective for Portugal,” said Giovinazzi. “I have raced there in F3 in 2015 but, besides knowing the track layout, I don’t think that experience will mean much with one of the modern F1 cars.
“I think it’ll be a fun track to drive, it has a lot of changes of elevations and should make for some good racing: I would be happy to make some good memories there.”
“We’ve been pretty agile in adapting to a new track” – Frédéric Vasseur
Frédéric Vasseur says Portimão is a step into the unknown for everyone, but he has been pleased to how Alfa Romeo have adapted to the new tracks on this year’s rearranged calendar.
Vasseur, the Team Principal of Alf Romeo, says the team have been able to score points at both new venues on the calendar to date, with Raikkonen scoring a ninth place at the Autodromo Internazionale del Mugello before Giovinazzi’s point last time out in Germany, and he hopes for more of the same in Portugal.
“The Algarve circuit is another step into the unknown for the team, another new venue where we will start our race weekend from scratch,” said Vasseur. “As a team, we’ve been pretty agile in adapting to a new track and we’ve brought home points from both occasions in which we’ve visited a new – or newish – venue, so we can aim to be on the pace once more this weekend.
“We have been fighting within or just outside the points in recent weekends, which is a good step forward, but we cannot stop trying to make progress as the midfield remains hugely competitive.”