Alfa Romeo has started the 2019 season on a high note, its new recruit Kimi Räikkönen having scored points in the first four races with eight top 10 in 12 Grands Prix before the summer break. However, in Azerbaijan, Räikkönen and Antonio Giovinazzi were the eighth and ninth fastest, but were unable to take these positions on the starting grid, and the team only scored one point: the Finn returned to tenth place after starting from the pit lane. They were then penalized for a technical infraction at the German Grand Prix when they finished seventh and eighth in the rain.
Yes Alfa Romeo had finished the Baku race in the same position as in qualifying and had kept his Hockenheim result, the Swiss structure would have tackled the summer break in fifth place in the championship with at least 16 more points. In reality, it gradually lost ground in the fight for fourth place among manufacturers and only finished eighth.
"The season could have been completely different, but it's true for the ten teams", emphasizes Vasseur to Motorsport.com. "We missed two big opportunities: one in Baku, where Antonio had to start from the back of the grid and Kimi from the pitlane. At Hockenheim, we were penalized. It would have been a completely different championship."
"This season, I think we have had three chaotic races: Baku, Hockenheim and Brazil. It makes no sense to lead the group [in the middle of the table] if 100% of the cars finish the race, because we score the points of seventh and eighth places, or seventh and tenth. If we lead this group and there are accidents [front], then we can score 20 points. "
Alfa have not won the midfield battle in any race this season: even during their best weekends, the team scored less than their rivals with their peak performance. This changed at the Brazilian Grand Prix, where Räikkönen and Giovinazzi concluded a mad race in fourth and fifth, for a total of 22 units; it is the second best score of a mid-table team for the whole season, a score thanks to which Alfa finally scored more points than in 2018.
"What is important to me is that we have drastically reduced the gap on the leader compared to last year. We were 2.6% of the best team on average [in 2018], now we we're at 1.8% or 1.9%. It's a good step forward, and we have to do the same [in 2020]. We have to keep the same motivation. Sometimes the results we get in track are not representative of performance or speed. Performance level, I think we did a good job ", concludes Vasseur.