A strong performance in Melbourne concluded with Valtteri Bottas crossing the line in P8. This now means Alfa Romeo’s tally of 13 points, after just three races, already equals what the team managed throughout all of 2021. Head of Track Engineering, Xevi Pujolar, in a post-race press conference with select media including Motorlat, announced “We are fully motivated as a team…that’s good for confidence and everything is on the way up.”
After such a promising season opener saw Alfa Romeo F1 Team ORLEN score double points under the lights in Bahrain, the team was keen to bounce back after their ‘off-race in Jeddah’ - as described by Team Principal, Frédéric Vasseur.
With a starting grid position of P12, Valtteri Bottas knew points were within his grasp. Having been the latest victor of the Australian Grand Prix back in 2019, Bottas once again showed his race craft around Albert Park and brought home four points to the team with his P8 finish. This result was a combination of misfortune for rivals up front and consistent lap times for Finnish racer. His rookie team-mate, Zhou Guanyu, was close to making it a double points finish for the team just missing out in P11. As such, this performance shows great promise for the season to come with Alfa Romeo F1 Team ORLEN currently sitting in sixth position in the F1 Constructors’ Championship.
Valtteri Bottas showed his pace throughout Sunday’s race and recorded the 5th quickest lap of the 2022 Australian Grand Prix – 1:21.651. Race Winner Charles Leclerc, a former Alfa Romeo driver, set the standard with a 1:20.260 being the quickest of the day.
Speaking to the media afterwards, Valtteri Bottas remarked:
“I really enjoyed the race today, it was a good performance with close racing and battles from beginning to end. Of course, the most important thing is that we brought home some points, and that is due to a good job done by everyone in the team. I am happy with the calls that were made and how we raced – and, definitely, the thinner wing that penalised us yesterday turned out to be the right choice and helped us make progress.”
This noticeable difference in pace was also highlighted by MotorLAT in discussion with Alfa Romeo F1 Team’s Head of Engineering, Xevi Pujolar. The question was posed as to whether the team was happier with their race pace compared to qualifying and if that will benefit them at the first F1 Sprint of 2022. Even more so as McLaren and Alpine appear to have the edge in qualifying but seem well within the team’s grasp on race day.
“I think in race pace we can easily fight them. The sprint quali format will be good for us. We will have to see the updates people bring [to Imola] but we hope to have both cars fighting for the points.” Pujolar said.
Having competed on three different tracks to start the season, Pujolar also commented on how pleased he was with the consistent performance:
“Our car works reasonably well at all types of different tracks, we've seen some areas that we need more performance and we are working on it. Also, I think in terms of race pace, we were a bit stronger than qualifying…we are very pleased and consistently can be fighting with pretty much everyone for the points so that’s really good.”
Valtteri Bottas also made clear he had enjoyed his time on track whilst also alluding to further updates to come as he told the media: “I had a fun day even though I had to work hard, pushing all the race: now hopefully we can continue to be strong and improve. We have upgrades coming in the next few rounds so we can continue fighting for points in every race.”
However, one aspect that Valtteri Bottas was not pleased with during Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix was the fact that Lance Stroll appeared to run him off the track at Turn 3. It did seem that it would be inevitable for the Canadian to receive a penalty given that the guidance has been clear about leaving space for a car to get around the corner. However, no such penalty came.
Motorlat asked Xevi Pujolar if the team had expected a sanction to head Lance Stroll’s way on top of the 5-second penalty he received for weaving: “We were expecting him to get a penalty, it was not very nice what he did and to see there was no penalty. It was not just a frustration for us, we believe he should have had one.” Pujolar said.
This annoyance aside though, Melbourne was a strong race for Alfa Romeo F1 team ORLEN and was asked what this result does to motivate the team. “We are fully motivated as a team, here and at the factory…and that’s good for the confidence. Everything is just on the way up to score more points and a good position in the Championship.”
Where Alfa Romeo F1 Team ORLEN finish in 2022 is anyone’s guess, but they have started the season in a strong way. With the promise of further updates to come they are very much a team looking at their rivals in front as opposed to those behind.