The predictions of pre-season turned out to be right: it’s one hell of a tight field, from the front to the back of the grid. On a day when the smallest margins made the difference between an early exit in Q1 and going all the way to Q3, Antonio Giovinazzi and Kimi Räikkönen delivered a solid performance to qualify just outside the top ten.
With their improved C41 pushing them, both drivers cleared the first obstacle, Q1, which so many times last year proved an unsurmountable hurdle. In the second segment, fighting for a place in the top ten, we were less than a tenth away from achieving the goal.
The result, with Antonio in P12 and Kimi a row behind, in P14, leaves us in an ideal position to target points in tomorrow’s race. With a free choice of tyres and a long evening of racing ahead of us, we’re ready to race right in the middle of this epic fight.
Frédéric Vasseur, Team Principal Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN and CEO Sauber Motorsport AG: “Our target was to put both cars in Q2 and we did it. We even got really close to the top ten and to miss out on Q3 for less than a tenth really shows the progress we have made compared to last year. It’s a good reward for the team after the good work put in over the winter. We have proven that our optimism after testing was well-founded and that we can be a lot more competitive this season. There’s still a lot of work to be done, however. We need to keep fine tuning our package to be able to be consistently in the top ten and regularly fight for points, but we have definitely made some big moves in the right direction.”
Kimi Räikkönen (car number 7):
Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN C41 (Chassis 04/Ferrari)
FP3: 7th / 1:32.224 (15 laps)
Q1: 1:31.547 (6 laps)
Q2: 14th / 1:31.238 (6 laps)
“Not a bad result for the first qualifying of the year: of course, it could have been a bit better, as I made a couple of small mistakes here and there in my laps, but it could have been a lot worse. We made a few changes to the car after the morning to anticipate the conditions and perhaps they didn’t work as well as we expected, but we are still in a good position for the race. We’ll need to see how the weather is tomorrow, do our best and see what we can get out of the race. We are confident our package is better and we can fight for a good result.”
Antonio Giovinazzi (car number 99):
Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN C41 (Chassis 03/Ferrari)
FP3: 12th / 1:32.500 (11 laps)
Q1: 1:30.998 (6 laps)
Q2: 12th / 1:30.708 (6 laps)
“We can be really happy with this result as tomorrow we will start just outside the top ten and with a free choice of tyres. We have a very good opportunity to achieve a good result as we saw how our performance was close to the cars ahead of us. Today helps us confirm the positive feeling we had after testing: we have improved compared to last year and we feel we can have a lot more fun this season. Our focus is now all on tomorrow: it will be tricky, especially with the wind, but we can bring home a good result. We need to put everything together – strategy, start, pit-stops – and get the maximum out of our cars, but we can definitely aim for the points.”