Alfa Romeo’s head of trackside engineering, Xevi Pujolar, stated that front wing damage after an opening lap incident with Carlos Sainz Jr caused Antonio Giovinazzi to lose aero balance during the first stint of the Dutch Grand Prix.
In what had already been a dramatic weekend for the Hinwil based team after Kimi Raikkonen announced his retirement from Formula 1 on the eve of the weekend commencing, before the Finn tested positive for COVID-19, forcing reserve driver Robert Kubica to be drafted in on the eve of the final Practice session.
Sunday’s race was a disappointment for Alfa Romeo as Antonio Giovinazzi could only manage 14th ahead of Kubica in 15th, with both drivers being lapped twice by race winner Max Verstappen.
Giovinazzi’s weekend had been going well up until race day, with the Italian dazzling in Qualifying to put his Alfa Romeo seventh on the grid ahead of both Alpines and Daniel Ricciardo.
But after a poor start and contact with Sainz, followed by a puncture early on in the second half of the race ended all chance of the Italian capitalising on his good qualifying position.
Speaking to selected media publications, including MotorLat, Pujolar, later revealed that the incident with Sainz on the opening lap had made the Italian’s first stint a difficult one due to a loss of aero balance.
“For (Giovinazzi), Lap 1 wasn't very clean; he had an incident with Sainz, which meant he lost two positions to the Alpine, and from then on, it was difficult to recover in the first stint, and unfortunately, he had an incident in the second stint with a puncture, and he had to stop and change from mediums to hards because we had a very sudden loss of pressure and that further compromised his race.”
“We could see that he had a little bit of damage on the front wing, which caused a small loss of aero balance, but it was good enough to continue.”
Pujolar also praised Kubica’s performance as the Pole quickly adapted to the C41 and the Zandvoort circuit despite not having driven the car in anger since the first Practice session at the Hungaroring where he replaced Raikkonen.
“He did a very good job because the track was not easy to have confidence with, some of the sections, so he jumped in the car, and it’s not like he’s been driving a lot for us, just some FP1s and for him to jump in the car at such short notice and get ready for qualifying with a one-hour session.”
“In qualifying, ok for sure it was for him to get ready for the last run in Qualifying and getting confident with the set of softs and the traffic. I think the performance was very respectable.’’
“We could see some drivers going off the track; he kept the car on track in what was a respectable performance.’
“Today in the race, I think he did one step more and his pace despite being so far back, which for sure was difficult for him to make progress, but I think it was a very respectable race overall for him.”
Despite their rivals for eighth place in the constructors’ championship, also failing to score at Zandvoort, Alfa Romeo left the Dutch circuit with a 17 points deficit to Williams in the race for eighth in the constructors' championship as the Formula 1 circus moves to Monza for the Italian Grand Prix.