Alfa-Sauber is fifth in the World Championship. And meanwhile no longer satisfied when only six World Championship points jump out on a race weekend like in Miami. The C42 is capable of more. Alfa must score more. Another upgrade is to come to the car in Barcelona.
At Alfa Romeo at the Miami weekend, you could see how close together luck and bad luck are in Formula 1. Rookie Guanyu Zhou could have made it into Q2 if he hadn't made a mistake in his first attempt. Wouldn't have had his car weighed afterwards, which messed up the schedule. If only there weren't several cars in the way behind him. Otherwise, the Chinese youngster would have kicked out the teammate. And Bottas would have started 16th and not fifth.
The Finn held this position until the 49th lap. A mistake in the treacherous turn 17, which was resurfaced for Saturday, cost Bottas two positions to his former team. He had braked a bit too late. Out of concern that the Mercedes would attack him. The C42 was the better car in Miami, but Mercedes was the third force on the results list. After coming into contact with the wall, the veteran was lucky to be able to continue at all. In seventh place, he added six points to the team account. "The fact that we're a bit disappointed shows how much progress we've made this season," said team boss Frederic Vasseur.
Failing to convert chances
Alfa scored 31 points in the first five races. Twice as many as the second Ferrari customer Haas. And yet they both have in common that they don't make enough of their opportunities. Haas even more than Alfa-Sauber. The Swiss racing team should have had one or two more points on the credit side. In Saudi Arabia, Bottas' engine overheated. Otherwise he would have scored well there too. Guanyu Zhou threw two penalties in eleventh place. In Australia he repeated this result, possibly just behind Alexander Albon in the Williams. Bottas could have finished fourth instead of fifth at Imola. The team believes that without a botched pit stop, there might even have been a podium.
In Hinwil, everyone is aware that better exploitation of chances is needed in the next races. Now you have the opportunity to break away from direct competition like Alpha Tauri, Haas, Aston Martin and Williams and sail on course for sixth place. And if the further development is right, maybe you can also leave Alpine behind and endanger McLaren.
The technical department under Jan Monchaux is working towards this. Pull-ups are done in Hinwil to quickly improve the C42. Team boss Vasseur responds to the question of whether there will be new parts in Barcelona. "A big upgrade," exults the Frenchman. If everything goes according to plan.
Sauber good for a surprise
In the first races, Alfa-Sauber continued to develop the car.In Bahrain it was mainly about better cooling. Hinwil improved the rear brake scoops and the rear wheel suspension for Saudi Arabia. For Imola they revised the underbody in the front area, changed the engine cover and again the rear brake ventilation.
So far the updates are bearing fruit. Which is all the more important because the joker for the lightest car in the field will eventually be used up. The competition should eventually come close to the minimum weight of 798 kilograms. The C42 does not have any major weaknesses. If anything, it's the fast corners that could be even better compared to the immediate opponents.
That's exactly what the upgrades aim for - better performance in high-speed corners. This requires even more downforce. Mechanically, the car is a bench with the pushrod suspensions front and rear. The C42 has high traction and is manoeuvrable. And it benefits from the good drivability and power of the Ferrari six-cylinder turbo.
Tire management is also a major strength. Both from the car and from the driver. Valtteri Bottas was trailing Lewis Hamilton on the medium tires the longer the stint lasted. It was already seven seconds before the Mercedes stopped. This C42 could still be good for one or the other surprise this season.