After 3 years in a row of finishing eighth in the constructors championship, Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN will be hoping that they can match, if not better their 2019 performance, where the Swiss-based team achieved a final points tally of 57 which included a fourth and fifth place finish at the Brazilian Grand Prix.
With a new Ferrari power unit and the team choosing to go against their parent teams wishes of using development tokens on the rear in order to take on new parts from Ferrari, instead choosing to add a ‘Mercedes-Style’ nosecone, points-scoring finishes will be the aim throughout the season.
2020 – From midfield to backmarkers
2020 was a difficult year for Alfa Romeo, the swiss-based team may have managed to match their 2019 constructors championship finish of 8th place but due to struggles with a slow Ferrari Power Unit, ended up finishing the season with 49 points less on 8 points. Unlike 2019, Alfa Romeo where often at the front of the three teams who were backmarkers, instead of challenging at the back of the midfield.
In what was their second year at the team in 2020, both Antonio Giovinazzi and Kimi Räikkönen both finished the year with 4 points. On a Saturday, Giovinazzi was narrowly the superior driver, outqualifying his finnish team-mate 9 times to Kimi Räikkönen’s 8, with Giovinazzi progressing into Qualifying 2 at the Turkish, Sakhir and Abu Dhabi Grand Prix’s. Kimi Räikkönen managed to progress into Qualiyfing 2 at the Spanish, Italian and Tuscan and Turkish Grand Prix.
On a Sunday, the experience of Räikkönen came out on top with the finishing ahead of Giovinazzi 11 times to the Italians 6 with as previously mentioned both drivers finishing with 4 points at the end of the season. Räikkönen’s points would come with two 9th place finishes at Imola and Mugello. Perhaps a highlight of the Finnish drivers season other than points finishes, was his start at the Portuguese Grand Prix, gaining 9 positions by virtue of being able to heat his tyres better than others on a cold day at the Algarve Circuit.
Giovinazzi’s season was perhaps plagued with some frustrating moments which included a crash at Spa in the same place two years in a row, but the Italian managed to finish in the points at Austria, Nürburgring, and Imola – two tenth place finishes and one 9th place finish. A personal highlight for Giovinazzzi would come at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, where the Italian managed to hold off the works Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel to finish in the last points scoring position.
Looking ahead to the 2021 season
Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN have retained both drivers for the third year in the row, despite speculation that they would replace one or both of the drivers. Frederic Vasseur will remain in charge of the team and there are no other major backroom changes that have been announced for the swiss-based team.
Alfa Romeo had a very successful 2021 pre-season testing with the team completing a personal record of 422 laps in their first full days with the C41. Inside the team, there seems to be a growing level of confidence that this years car is superior to the previous years one with Jan Monchaux – Alfa Romeo’s Technical Director stating : “We feel ready to start the championship and we feel better prepared than last year. The car was reliable throughout the week and we improved on the weaknesses we had in 2020.”
What to expect this year?
From race to race we can expect Alfa Romeo to be either at the back of the midfield or from the front of those at the rear. With the new Ferrari Power Unit showing clear signs of improvement in pre-season testing even with the likely sandbagging from teams, it would be fair to expect the Swiss-based team to improve on their 8 points from last year.
This year is a crucial year for both Giovinazzi and Räikkönen, if both drivers want to race for the team under the new regulation changes that will come into play in 2022. For Giovinazzi especially, it is crucial that the Italian has his most successful year and works on improving his consistency – an area in which he has tended to lack in his first two years.
With Ferrari being able to choose who takes one of the Alfa Romeo seats, having a pool of incredibly talented juniors, perhaps most notably Robert Shwartzman who you would have to say is the favourite for the FIA Formula 2 Championship this year, it is crucial that Giovinazzi impresses this year.