Another race Sunday, another occasion in which the Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN team has looked strong… but points have remained elusive. In Portugal, in a race that once again saw very little attrition, we raced strongly, showing pace and grit but coming home just outside of the top ten.
Antonio and Kimi, starting in P12 and P15 respectively after a solid performance on Saturday, looked set to fight for the points all race: a good start placed the Finn in a good place, but contact with his team-mate brought the Iceman’s race to a premature end. Antonio, in the remaining C41, did a very good job in his first stint to keep Alonso’s Alpine at bay, before setting off in pursuit of Vettel after the pit stop.
Antonio reeled in the four-time world champion before passing him with a decisive manoeuvre on the outside of turn one: he then controlled the two Aston Martins behind him, keeping them there until the chequered flag. With little action happening in front of the Italian, he crossed the line in P12.
No ultimate reward for the team, then, but the consciousness of being able to be there or thereabout when a race produces a few more surprises. It’s not yet where we want to be, but it’s a world away from where we were last year after three rounds. We keep working.
You never want to have contact with your team-mate, and this time, unfortunately, it was my mistake. I got caught out by the slipstream and ended up driving into Antonio. I couldn’t do much after that, the front wing got stuck under the car and I couldn’t steer: all I could do was go straight into the gravel. It’s a disappointment as we looked like we had a decent pace, I made a really good start and the race could have been positive. The only upside was that at least Antonio didn’t get any damage and was able to continue.
I feel we got all we could from the race today: it wasn’t possible to get any closer than this to the top ten. After the contact with Kimi, from which thankfully I didn’t get damaged, and the Safety Car, nothing really happened in the front which made it really difficult to break into the points: I started 12th and finished there. I still had a fun race, some battles with Alonso and Vettel which kept me busy: I was happy to be able to pass Seb and keep both Aston Martins behind until the race. We will continue working hard to get into the points soon.
Frédéric Vasseur, Team Principal Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN and CEO Sauber Motorsport AG
It was a mixed Sunday for us: on the one hand, we lost one car through contact between team-mates, which is one of the worst things that can happen, in a sporting sense, to a team; on the other hand, Antonio did a really good job in the remaining car, keeping behind most of our direct rivals and finishing just outside the points. We keep showing how competitive the car can be in the race, but we still miss something to be in the top ten in normal circumstances: our work doesn’t stop and we will keep pushing to get there consistently.