It was a surprisingly promising opening day to the French Grand Prix for the Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN team, Kimi Räikkönen in a shock to some ended the day in ninth spot, just inside the top ten heading into Saturday.
The veteran driver looked strong in challenging breezy conditions, despite running across the kerb at turn two like the majority of the field. Unlike those who went wide at turn two, Räikkönen managed to escape with his car not damaged, a lucky escape for the 2007 world champion.
The aim for the Finnish driver going into qualifying will of course be to make qualifying three, a target that could be reached come qualifying.
“It wasn’t too bad out there, I even feel I could have been a few places higher with a better lap.
“The hope, of course, is that we can be somewhere around this region, in the top ten, when we get into qualifying: as always, we can try to find something more tonight, with the engineers, and squeeze some more performance out of the car, but it’s not a bad start.”
“I am still not 100% happy” – Antonio Giovinazzi
On the other side of the Alfa Romeo garage it was an equally good day for Antonio Giovinazzi, the Italian ended the day in eleventh place just missing out on the top ten. The midfield is incredibly close around the Circuit Paul Ricard, so close in fact that Giovinazzi was less than a tenth behind his team-mate, who sits in ninth.
Like Räikkönen, Giovinazzi will have his eyes fully set on qualifying and pushing his C41 into the final part of qualifying.
“It was a good start to our weekend and we’re confident ahead of qualifying. The conditions out there were not easy, with a lot of wind and low grip, but this is what we can expect for tomorrow as well.
“To be just outside the top then when I am still not 100% happy with the car means we can be in the fight for Q3 if we find some improvement tonight. This is our task and if we do a better job at it than our rivals, we can have a good Saturday. Let’s have a good debrief now and see what tomorrow brings.”