Early Räikkönen Heroics Go Unrewarded as Alfa Romeo Miss out on Points in Portugal
Kimi Räikkönen started sixteenth in Sunday’s Portuguese Grand Prix, but a mixture of starting on the soft Pirelli tyre and cold and damp conditions saw him climb to sixth by the start of lap two.
However, when the race settled down, the veteran Finn found himself defenceless, and he fell back down the order behind the likes of Pierre Gasly, Sergio Pérez, Daniel Ricciardo and Esteban Ocon, and agonisingly missed out on points in eleventh.
The Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN driver was superb on the opening lap, pulling off overtake after overtake to run inside the top six, but once the rain stopped, the race became more of a struggle, and ultimately he lost out on the final point late in the day to his former team-mate Sebastian Vettel.
Räikkönen says the car was just lacking that little bit that could have earned the Finn only his second top ten finish of the season, but he hopes for better luck and a points result next weekend in the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari.
“We had a very good first couple of laps, I put myself in a good position and was able to pass a lot of cars, but it doesn’t really matter in the end as we got nothing out of it,” said Räikkönen. “We did what we could, but unfortunately there was nothing I could do to keep Vettel behind at the end.
“The race pace was not too bad but when you start where we started, it’s not easy to make up places. The car felt good, but we still miss a little bit to finish in the points at this moment. Hopefully we can keep moving forward for next week.”
“Hopefully we can have a better weekend in Imola” – Antonio Giovinazzi
Team-mate Antonio Giovinazzi had a frustrating day after losing the use of his radio on the opening lap and ended with the Italian down in fifteenth at the chequered flag.
The loss of the radio meant it was just a race of survival for Giovinazzi, with only his pit board available for data. It was made particularly trickier by the gusting wind at the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve, but he hopes for a better weekend next weekend at Imola.
“It felt like a very long race, made even harder by not having a working radio after lap one,” said Giovinazzi. “I had no communication with the team and in the end, it was just a matter of making it to the flag, which we did.
“The wind didn’t make things easy, the gusts made the car inconsistent from corner to corner and it was difficult to get into a rhythm. Hopefully we can have a better weekend in Imola, I think the potential is there and the track should suit us a little better.”
“Finishing just outside the points is obviously frustrating” – Frédéric Vasseur
Frédéric Vasseur, the Team Principal at Alfa Romeo, admitted it was frustrating to run inside the top ten for most of the day but come away from the Portuguese Grand Prix without a point or two.
Vasseur praised Räikkönen for his outstanding start to the race, and although points eluded the team, it was still pleasing to see how much progress the team has made this season with its C39 chassis that it was able to fight with those in the midfield for much of the day.
“Finishing just outside the points is obviously frustrating, especially after running pretty much all the race in the top ten,” said Vasseur. “We took the decision to split the two cars’ strategies to maximise our chances in the race and it nearly paid off.
“Kimi had an incredible first couple of laps and to see him overtake a Ferrari and fight with the Red Bulls is obviously a sign of the progress we have made since the start of the season.
“Unfortunately, our best efforts weren’t enough to bring a point home but we can be confident about the final races of the season: if we continue on this path, and keep improving and optimising our package, we can consistently be in the fight for top ten finishes.”