D For three races, Alfa Romeo Sauber drove home with zero points. And actually always pretty clear. The Swiss racing team threatened to drift to the end of the midfield not only in the points table. The engineers also stepped a bit on the spot with the car. That's why the French GP was something of a liberation. Alfa-Sauber had brought the first of three upgrades in a row. Antonio Giovinazzi made it into Q3 for the first time. Kimi Räikkönen finished eighth on her own. After Daniel Ricciardo's penalty, the result was a 7th place.
Team boss Frédéric Vasseur breathed a sigh of relief: “We are happy to take the points with us. Every point counts in midfield. ”Vasseur saw the Renault driver's penalty as a compensatory justice. “If the rule goes against us, we always receive a fine. Even if common sense says that punishment for doing this is excessive. Like the front wing flaps in Baku. I'm not a big fan of punishment. But if everything is on the test bench, then it is only fair if Ricciardo gets a penalty. He was off the track twice and took advantage of it twice. ”
Ricciardo chose the wrong option
Even team manager Beat Zehnder couldn't find anything that could have relieved Ricciardo. “He was at the exit of turn 8 with all four wheels off the track and comes back at an angle that forces Norris to swerve. If they punish Vettel in Montreal, they have no other choice with Ricciardo. At the exit of Turn 9, Kimi is ahead and holds his racing line. Daniel is completely off the track again. He only had the chance to swerve to the left and lose momentum, or to pass by on the outside with excess. There is no clearer definition of an advantage. ”
Alfa-Sauber has achieved the turning point in Paul Ricard. According to Vasseur, it is difficult to calculate what part the aerodynamic new developments (baffles, floor) have in this. “If we compare our speed with McLaren's, then we were much closer to them in the race. Kimi's good tire management could also have played a role here. If you want to make real progress, both have to be right. The development steps and the understanding of the tires. “
Much praise for Raikkonen
Zehnder sang the song of praise to the veteran Raikkonen after the race. “The Kimi is amazing. Hulkenberg has been under pressure throughout the race and always stays cool. He knows when to accelerate and when not to. He knows what he can expect from his tires. He knows when to switch to which motor mode and when to switch to which energy charge status. Other drivers need three to four reminders per lap. The engineer from the box doesn't have to say anything to Kimi. He does everything on his own. ”
If you have 300 Grand Prix under your belt, driving at the limit is routine for you. He can take care of things that some TV viewers at home on the sofa would find difficult to keep track of. Zehnder explains: “Kimi always wants to be informed exactly who stopped when and for how long, he wants to know the distances to the front and back and the pit stop windows of his opponents. Then you don't even have to tell him when to pick up the pace. He's got that under control himself. ”
For Antonio Giovinazzi, a good training session ended in disappointment again. His soft tires went down on their knees after just 7 laps. That meant two pit stops. So the Italian could forget points. The risk of having him drive on medium tires in Q2, following the example of the Renault and McLaren drivers, was too high for Sauber. “We didn't have the speed for one lap to get through with the medium tires. And for Antonio the promotion to Q3 was mentally important. That boosts his confidence. It is also not always said that the soft tire is the worse starting tire. Last year in Sochi, we played the right game with Leclerc. That was also a race where nobody wanted to start with soft tires, ”explains Zehnder.