Formula 1

Alfa Romeo’s Frédéric Vasseur “We had a successful fire-up last week and now we are ready”

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Credit: Sauber Motorsport AG

In a spectacular ceremony at the Grand Theatre in Warsaw, Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN unveiled their car for the 2021 season: the C41. The car which has been designed by Centro Stile is an evolution of the previous years C39. Perhaps the most obvious difference other than in the livery is the nose cone of the car, which the Swiss-based team chose to spend their development tokens on.

Underneath the bodywork, the car will be powered by a new Ferrari engine and the team will be hoping for an increase in performance, similar to the level they were at in 2019 with this new engine.

Fans will not have to wait too long before they see the car out on track, with the team taking a filming day at Barcelona on the 26th of February before the three days of pre season testing at the Bahrain International Circuit where all cars will be on show.

Frédéric Vasseur – Team Principal of Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN, isn’t in the business of setting specific goals for the season ahead but is still excited about the prospects of the team following successful fire-ups :

“This period of the season is always very exciting, it’s surely a time packed with emotions because we have been preparing the car for a month now and we are close to finally seeing it on track. We had a successful fire-up last week, so now we are ready. Every team on the grid has very high expectations right now: all the teams expect to do a good job in the winter and to be in a good position for the first race.”

The winter may have been very busy for all the teams including Alfa Romeo, with the smaller winter break than usual causing Alfa Romeo to have an ambitious schedule of wind tunnel testing and development but the team are ready to go back on track again after a two month break :

“It has barely been two months and we’re ready to go back on track again: it means that the winter break was very short and, necessarily, very busy. Even if, in the end, we carried over a large part of the car, we still had an ambitious plan of development and wind tunnel testing.”

With the huge change in regulations on the horizon in 2022, members of the team will most likely have to switch focus from developing this years car, to developing the car for 2022. As the C41 is a developed version of last years car, the changes that need to be made for 2022 are stark in comparison to the ones that have been made over the winter :

“In 2021, we will carry over a car that shares the same philosophy as its predecessor, but there have been new regulations introduced for the aerodynamic package. However, the changes we had to do pale in comparison with the ones on the cards for 2022.

That will be a big change in terms of philosophy, and it means the team will need to focus on the 2022 project quite early into the season.”

As well as the regulations changing in how the car can be built, a budget cap will be introduced for 2022, but this will not affect the running of the team that much, with Vasseur expecting the budget caps to affect the bigger teams on the grid :

“Our team will not be affected drastically by the cost cap introduced this season – I expect the situation to be much difficult for the bigger teams. We can say we are in a comfort zone when it comes to our budget, but we will still have to be very efficient with our expenditure: efficiency will now be the key word in our sport.”

Alfa Romeo will also be taking on some new partners for the 2021 season, which shows the faith that brands have in the Alfa Romeo project. With the past year being difficult for all brands, Vasseur noted that it is a testament to the strong relationship that they have with their partners that they are able to extend their partnership together :

“2020 was obviously a difficult season for our sport in general but also for the world and the economy. At the end of the day, we can be proud to be in a situation in which most of our partners chose to stay with us and decided to extend the partnership with the team.

It is a demonstration of the value this relationship brings to their brands and of the extensive collaboration between the team and the sponsors. We are also very happy to welcome new sponsors for 2021: it shows major brands have faith in our project and we share this optimism with them.”

This will be the third consecutive year in which the team have chosen the same driver lineup of Kimi Räikkönen and Antonio Giovinazzi, who work very well together and bring stability to the team which is crucial in Formula 1 and the consistency that the drivers bring will be crucial for Alfa Romeo’s hopes of picking up points finishes over the course of the season.

“The collaboration between the team and the drivers is crucial in Formula One, and it goes beyond the level of the drivers. You need drivers who work well with each other and help the team progress: with Kimi and Antonio we have a good line-up, a good combination of drivers who complement each other and have a very positive and productive relationship – both between them and with the team.

After three years together, we know each other well: we know exactly what the drivers want, in and out of the car, and this will be very helpful to continue improving.” 

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