Formula 1

Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN stun in Istanbul qualifying session

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Photo credit: DPPI

Kimi Räikkönen and Antonio Giovinazzi enjoyed their best qualifying session of the 2020 FIA Formula 1 World Championship season in spite of the tricky track conditions at Intercity Istanbul Park.

The Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN duo will both start the Turkish Grand Prix from eighth and tenth place, marking the first time the pair have qualified in the top 10 this season. It is the perfect way for the team to celebrate their [Sauber’s] 500th Grand Prix start, having entered their first Grand Prix 27 years ago, in 1993. The weather, together with the new track surface, was unforgiving for most of the grid, but Raikkonen found himself setting the third fastest time in Q2. 

“These were some of the most awful conditions I’ve faced in my career but there wasn’t much we could do about it, we just had to go out and face them.” said Räikkönen, “we struggled a lot in the morning, but I think the laps we did in FP3 helped us later in the day.

“Even when the rain stopped, the track remained very slippery and it was hard to stay on track, but in the end I think the conditions benefitted us. What really matters is tomorrow, we have to do our best and see where we end up. We have a good chance to convert our grid places into a good result.”

It wasn’t just Räikkönen who flirted with the top few positions during the sessions, team mate Giovinazzi ended the second part of qualifying with the fifth fastest time. 

“It’s really nice to be in Q3 for the first time this year, especially to do so with both cars: it’s a nice way to celebrate the team’s 500th race, but there’s still plenty to do to get the job done.” Said Giovinazzi. 

The C39s had benefitted from setup changes after the third practice session, but even in the treacherous conditions, which somewhat mirrored those at the Styrian Grand Prix earlier in the season, Räikkönen and Giovinazzi succeeded in placing them within the top ten grid positions. 

“The conditions out there weren’t easy, probably the most difficult in my career, but we put together the laps when it mattered and we achieved our best result of the season so far.” Added Giovinazzi, “we tried to switch to inters for Q3 but in the end I couldn’t get them to work as well as I wanted: still, we can be very happy with what we achieved as a team.

“From these positions we have a chance to do really well, especially if conditions remain like these. It won’t be easy to make up as many places as we usually do at the start, but I will definitely try!”

Team Principal, Frédéric Vasseur, reflected on the tough, but rewarding qualifying session, adding: “We can be really pleased about today’s qualifying result. The conditions out there weren’t easy with low grip and a cold and wet track, but we did a good job: the wet tyres worked well with our package and everyone delivered. 

“This morning’s session was quite tough, but we had a good reaction as a team and made a big step forward for qualifying. We had both drivers consistently in the top ten throughout the session and this is a big morale boost, on top of being a good opportunity to score points tomorrow. 

“We can be proud of what we did on an important weekend for the team, but no points are given out on Saturday: we still have to do a good job in the race.”

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