Alfa Romeo restores some of its former glory

After two bad seasons in Formula 1, Alfa Romeo came out of the doldrums.

In 2020 and 2021, it has accumulated 21 points, finishing eighth out of 10 teams in the Constructors’ Championship two years ago and ninth last season.

After the fourth race this year, he had already exceeded that total.

“It’s good for us,” said Frédéric Vasseur, the team’s manager. “We are moving in the right direction and improving our performance.

“At some point we’ll probably struggle with development and budget, but we have to take the points when they’re on the table, and so far we’ve done pretty well.”

The team, born of an alliance with Sauber at the end of 2017, bears a prestigious name that dates back to the beginnings of Formula 1 in 1950, when it took the first three places in the drivers’ championship, but it is one of the smallest in the grid. with 500 people.

Although the teams are operating with a budget cap of $140m this season, Alfa Romeo has to manage its finances carefully despite interest from new partners following its strong start.

“We are making huge progress in terms of sponsors; we get emails every week,” Vasseur said. “But we will have to stop development earlier than some other teams, which we knew before the start of the season.”

The introduction this season of new aerodynamic regulations intended to make the cars more competitive has improved the team’s results.

Another was the arrival of driver Valtteri Bottas from Mercedes. He scored 38 of the team’s 39 points.

“Since the start of the season he has done a perfect job,” said Vasseur. “His value to the team is so much more than what he does inside the car.

“At the factory he always thinks of the team rather than himself, trying to get the best out of the 500 people by getting on stage and talking to everyone because he is convinced he has to do part of motivation.”

Vasseur knew moving away from Mercedes, where Bottas was Lewis Hamilton’s teammate for five years, was right.

“We’ve been friends for 15 years,” he said. “I don’t want to criticize Mercedes because they are constructors’ champions eight times, but he has always been in the shadow of Lewis.

“I was convinced he would be a different guy when he became team manager, and he’s looking in that direction.”

Bottas said he was having fun at Alfa Romeo. “Since we started the season with points in the first race, what I really appreciate is the progress we have been able to make together as a team,” he said.

“We’re definitely not backing down, and that’s motivation for us to keep going. I’m really, really enjoying the ride.

After scoring a point on his Bahrain debut, teammate Zhou Guanyu was unlucky.

Zhou finished 11th in the next two races in Saudi Arabia and Australia before crashing out on the first lap of the grid-defining sprint race at Imola Grand Prix and retiring to Miami with a leak. ‘water.

“It’s not too bad to have this bad luck at the start of the season,” said Zhou, who has a one-year contract. “It’s just a matter of turning things around mid-season and at the end of the season when it matters most.”

An announcement on the continuation of the Alfa Romeo-Sauber alliance is expected in July, but Vasseur said both parties were “more than happy with the situation so far”.

“The team’s TV coverage is more than doubled from last year, the results are improving, the team’s image is improving and maybe we’re starting something,” he said. -he declares.

Michael Andretti, the former motor racing driver, was close to a deal to buy the team late last year before it fell through.

“We have made decent steps forward over the last two years, but not with the objective of selling something, but of improving the level of the team, and that is what we have done,” said said Vasseur.

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