Since Alfa Romeo is returning this year in Formula 1 as a manufacturer, having rebranded the Sauber F1 Team as their own, it wants to mark the occasion in a special way. And what the ‘new’ outfit (still owned by Sauber, by the way, despite the Alfa Romeo Racing tag) came up with was a Valentine’s Day livery for the first display of their 2019 car, which occurred on… Valentine’s Day.
So, Kimi Raikkonen took the special-liveried racer out on the Fiorano track that’s owned by Ferrari, which also supplies the (rebranded) engines and has a long history with the team-that-used-to-be-known-as-Sauber.
We guess that, for some, it will come as a relief to learn that the hearts-and-cloverleafs motif that was paraded on the promo event earlier today is strictly a one-off (or a marketing ploy, if we’re being honest). Although this is the new chassis and engine that will compete in 2019, the car that will launch officially on Monday, February 18, at the Circuit de Catalunya during the season’s first official practice session will sport different colors.
We don’t know if their choice for 2019 resembles last year’s red and white livery, with a huge Alfa logo on the bodywork, that looked very nice indeed. What they hope will not be repeated was their lackluster performance last year, where they finished in eighth place, ahead of only Scuderia Toro Rosso and Williams, having amassed just 48 points. In comparison, Constructors’ champion Mercedes scored a total of 655…
Anyway, the 2019 season sees Kimi Raikkonen and Charles Leclerc trading places, with the 2007 world champion returning to the team with which he debuted in Formula 1 and the promising young Frenchman taking his place at Scuderia Ferrari. His team mate will be Antonio Giovinazzi who also has links to Ferrari, having graduated from its driving academy.
After the new car completed its first public run at Fiorano, the team appeared to be satisfied with its performance.
“After a long winter we are happy to be on track with our new car for the first time”, said Alfa Romeo Racing’s technical director Simone Resta. “The focus of our work today was on aerodynamic, set-up and cooling checks. We ran for a total of 33 laps and will use our data to establish how the new regulations will affect the behavior of our car. The next two weeks which we will spend in Barcelona will be busy and will concentrate on proving the car’s reliability and performance”.
Kimi Raikkonen was also positive: “We had a good session on track. The car felt good and I was able to get a first impression of the car we will be running this season. We will work on the last few details and head to Barcelona for two weeks of testing. I look forward to getting to know the car better there”.
Of course, as the Finn knows all too well, performance is a very relative term in Formula 1, as you only see what you’ve accomplished once you hit the track alongside your competitors. With the new rules imposed by FIA forcing everyone to redesign their cars, the team hopes it will have done a better job than most and improve its performance. Then again, so does everyone else.