Raikonnen ‘surprised’ by Alfa ability to race rivals in Qatar
Alfa Romeo didn’t put any points on the board in Qatar, but Kimi Raikkonen was nevertheless surprised by his car’s ability to compete at times with a few of its mid-field rivals at Losail.
A strong start from P16 on the grid propelled the Iceman up to twelfth on the opening lap where he remained until he undertook an early pitstop.
Raikkonen again climbed back to P12 during his second stint, but had to start all over once again in the wake of a second tyre change that eventually saw the Finn conclude his evening 14th.
Raikkonen had little to show for his efforts in his first and only Qatar Grand Prix, but the F1 veteran who will retire at the end of the season took some comfort from his C41’s pace at one stage of the the race as well as from a thrilling pass executed on the outside of Williams’ Nicholas Latifi at Turn 1.
"It was good to race with some people, but it was pretty much the same as (qualifying): lacking a bit of speed everywhere," Raikkonen said.
"The car was actually getting better and better as we were going through the race, we gained some positions, in the end I was catching up, but I was lacking a bit of speed, so it’s a bit of a shame…
"I was surprised. I managed to pass quite a few cars into Turn 1 and I had thought it would be a bit more tricky."
At the end of the day, Raikkonen clocked in just three second behinds McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo and AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda ahead of him.
F1’s senior citizen also outpaced his teammate Antonio Giovinazzi by nearly 25 seconds at the chequered flag.
"I think we saw already on Friday and [Saturday] that our target without any issues in the front was to be in front of Williams and Haas," said Giovinazzi, who was taking a ‘glass half full’ approach to assessing Alfa’s race.
"In the end we did it, we had a great first lap and in the end the pace was just that.
"We opted for a two-stop, I think in the end it was okay. After the second stop I was stuck behind a Williams, we lost a bit of time there but more than what we did was impossible."
"We had a better Sunday after a difficult weekend, on a track that has been quite tough for our cars," added Alfa team boss Fred Vasseur.
"Our pace through practice, qualifying and the race was affected by some damage we picked up during the sessions, so to pull together a good recovery drive, leaving behind the Haas and the Williams, was a positive.
"Both drivers did really well at the start, produced some good overtakes and in the end we were able to close to within three seconds of Ricciardo and Tsunoda. P14 and P15 was the most we could achieve and we did it."
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November 25, 2021 at 05:56PM