The Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN team heads to Austria for two weeks of racing at the Red Bull Ring, the short but challenging circuit in Spielberg, Styria, where the eighth and ninth rounds of the championship will be held. In particular, this week’s race, the Styrian Grand Prix, will be important for the team, with Alfa Romeo celebrating their 111th birthday on June 24th: to mark this momentous milestone, the team will be sporting a tribute on the livery of the C41 cars of Antonio Giovinazzi and Kimi Raikkonen, to be unveiled on Thursday.
The tribute sported on the two cars is just one of the initiatives marking the day, with a full programme of activities, bringing to life the unique history and motorsport heritage of Alfa Romeo taking place at the marque’s historical base in Arese, near Milan, throughout the weekend.
When we last came to Austria, at the start of the 2020 season, a weird feeling pervaded the paddock. As the world of Formula One re-emerged from lockdown, so did a new season – one of the most unique in living memory – start to take shape. Nobody knew what to expect; from the racing, from the experience, from the world we were in: and yet, among the anti-infection measures, the social distancing and the “new normal”, Austria produced two memorable races that set the tone for an incredible year of racing, on tracks old and new alike.
Twelve months on, that awkward feeling is gone: strong of a full season under our belts, and with the current one going strong, the paddock turns up ready for a good show on a track that rarely produces bad races. The Austria double-race is something we’re looking forward to, not with apprehension but with anticipation.
This expectant feeling also stems from performance. Gone are the blues of 2020 – we now know we can fight – any weekend, anywhere. We head to Austria ready to battle and get back in the points, ready to continue our progression. Same venue, same two-week programme: but a whole world of difference when it comes to our expectations. On a special weekend for Alfa Romeo and the team as a whole.
Frederic Vasseur, Team Principal: “We head to Austria with the confidence we have what it takes to get back on track after France: we had been on an upwards path and we’re aiming to bounce back immediately and get back to scoring ways, and to do so on a special weekend for Alfa Romeo would be even more important. On such a short track, the field will be even closer: every detail will matter and we will need to ensure we deliver our best in every aspect as this is what it will take to come away with a good result. The second race, as we have seen last year, will be very peculiar: we will have a lot of data from the first weekend, but the conditions and the starting points will be very different, so there will be the need to adapt to the circumstances and get the best out of them.”
Kimi Raikkonen: “Our focus is fully on Austria and not on what happened in France. We have learnt our lessons and we are now determined to do better. Austria is one of those tracks that look easy but are not: it’s short and there are only a few corners where time can be gained or lost, which means each of them is crucial for the laptime. Managing the traffic, both in qualifying and in the race, will also be a key factor but, in the end, that will be the same for everyone. I hope we get to score points on this weekend, it’d be a nice birthday present for Alfa Romeo. In the end, we need to do a better job than our rivals and then we will have the chance to score points.”
Antonio Giovinazzi: “Austria is a track I like, one where I have some good memories: I scored my first point there, in 2019, and in 2020 I brought home ninth place after a quite exciting race. I am keen to add to these moments and I am looking forward to racing there twice in two weeks. I find you can really get into a rhythm and build on each session and I feel you can really extract the most from yourself and the car. We have been doing better in most of the recent races and I can’t wait to get back in the fight for the top ten on Sunday. Alfa Romeo‘s 111th birthday is the extra bit of motivation we need to do well and we can’t wait to celebrate in style.”