Alfa Romeo’s season has been a one-man show so far. F1 veteran Kimi Raikkonen (39) saved the former Swiss team this season. No wonder, he is is better, cooler and more confident than ever.
The numbers prove it: 31 of the 32 championship points for the team are thanks to Räikkönen. Without the Finn, the former Sauber team would share places with Williams at the bottom of the rankings.
When it comes to comparing drivers Antonio Giovinazzi, trained at Ferrari and 14 years younger, doesn’t look good against Räikkönen, the world champion of 2007.
Yet for Räikkönen, these stats don’t matter much. In his stoic usual self, he neither praised nor criticized:
“I had no concrete expectations, I just wanted to give the best every weekend.”
However, if you listened to Giovinazzi’s praise, one could get the impression of total surrender and awe for the Finn: “Kimi is really strong,” – “You could see that in qualifying at Hockenheim, for example, and he set the fastest time in the second sector, so I think he really pushes hard, which is better for me because I have a strong team-mate who is a great reference for my career.”
Being also self-critical Giovinazzi continued:
“Of course there are negative aspects as well. On the one hand, I can learn a lot from him. I can, look at his data and see what he does on and off the track. On the other hand, he is a world champion who always delivers results. He doesn’t make mistakes; he has a lot of experience and he knows what he is doing. If I ask him something I will get my answer … Thanks to Kimi, I have grown because I have watched him closely…”
Räikkönen, himself, is not completely satisfied:
“We started well into the season…but from the fifth race in Barcelona, we weren’t there where we wanted to be.”
On the bright side:
“With the means at our disposal, we are doing a good job…of course, we want to be faster, but we are making progress gradually. It will take a while. The importance is that the new parts we develop for the car work.”
Whether Alfa can keep up in the development progress in the second half of the season, is doubtful. Chief designer Simone Resta was ordered back to Ferrari in June. The designer will be missed in Alfa Romeos’ quest to defend seventh place in the constructors’ championship in the second part of the season. Unless, of course, Räikkönen continues to excel against all odds.
One thing is certain, the Finn, who also technically knows how to optimize a car, drives the current Alfa C38 at its limits.
Raikkonen vs. Giovinazzi
Average faster in Q: -0.1s
Race comparison: 11-1
Average team points: Raikkonen 97%, Giovinazzi 3%
*This article was first published in German at autobild.de/motorsport.