Kimi Räikkönen and Antonio Giovinazzi shared the driving duties for Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN on the opening day of pre-season testing at the Bahrain International Circuit on Friday, with both drivers completing more than sixty laps.
Räikkönen started the day in the C41-Ferrari and completed sixty-four laps and set a best time of 1:33.320, which was good enough to see him place twelfth fastest of the seventeen drivers who took to the track.
The Finn had one moment in the sun when he allegedly set a time almost twenty seconds faster than anyone else, but that was soon chalked off and he was resigned to ending up outside of the top ten.
“First day in the car for me, so it was positive to run without any issue,” reflected Räikkönen. “It was quite windy and the conditions would change from corner to corner, which made it a bit tricky, but it was the same conditions for everyone so it didn’t really make a difference.
“As far as our programme went, it was a typical testing day: we tried different things, made sure everything went as planned and ticked all the boxes on our list.
“It’s pointless to make guesses about where we stand right now, we will have to wait for the first race, but our aim is of course to move further up the grid compared to last year.”
“I think we did a good job, despite the difficult conditions” – Antonio Giovinazzi
Team-mate Giovinazzi took over for the afternoon’s running, and despite not having the best of the conditions – his hours were affected by a sandstorm at the circuit – he was able to complete sixty-nine laps and set the sixth-best time of the day.
The Italian will have sole responsibility of driving on Saturday before he hands the car over to Räikkönen for Sunday’s final day, but Giovinazzi felt it was a good start to the testing programme for Alfa Romeo.
“I think we did a good job, despite the difficult conditions,” said Giovinazzi. “I am happy with the car and the work the team did, taking into account it was just my first day this year.
“We need to keep working like this for these remaining days, of course, but we have a solid base to build on. After three months outside of the car, coming back behind the steering wheel is always tough, but we were helped by having a smooth day without any issue.
“I am hoping for another busy day like today when I am back in the car tomorrow.”
“It was a very pleasing start to our week of testing here” – Jan Monchaux
Technical Director Jan Monchaux was pleased Alfa Romeo were able to get through their whole testing programme on Friday, even if the conditions on track were far from ideal.
Monchaux says they will analyse the data they’ve acquired overnight to see where they can improve the car ahead of the final two days of testing and the first Grand Prix of the season at the same circuit at the end of the month.
“It was a very pleasing start to our week of testing here in Bahrain,” said Monchaux. “We have been through a full programme today, completing all the test items we had.
“We only have three days on the track, so it was very encouraging to be able to use our time fully with no reliability issues. The conditions were not ideal – the wind in the morning has the potential to cloud the behaviour of the car, as you never know if something is caused by a gust of wind or not.
“The afternoon was a bit better, the sand was annoying but it did not affect our programme and we ended up doing more laps than in the morning. We now have a night to analyse the data we collected and draw conclusions ahead of another day on track tomorrow.”