Struggling to score points this season, Alfa Romeo managing director Alessandro Alunni Bravi says they’re paying the price for last year’s “step back” in the latter part of the campaign.
Having scored points in seven of last year’s first nine races, Alfa Romeo managed just three top-ten results in the latter 13 grands prix with a best showing of P9 at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix.
They held onto sixth place in the standings at the season finale in Abu Dhabi through defensive tactics, holding up the Aston Martin teammates just enough to ensure they didn’t score that one extra point that would’ve dropped Alfa Romeo to seventh.
Alfa Romeo paying for 2022’s ‘step back’
Alfa Romeo head of trackside engineering Xevi Pujolar blamed rivals’ development rates, admitting it was “a bit higher than our one” especially in terms of producing the parts.
He added: “For sure, now, our aim for next season is to try to bring or speed up on that side, to be more aligned with the competition.”
But 12 races into this season and with just nine points on the board, Alfa Romeo are still having a tough time keeping up with the competition this season.
Alunni Bravi has blamed last year’s slump for that.
“We cannot compare this season with last season,” the Italian told Speedcafe. “Last season, we reached P6, which was the best result in a decade for our team.
“But we also did, in the second part of the season, we did a step back, and so we started from that point.”
Added to that, Alfa Romeo’s main rival from last season, Aston Martin, were fast out of the blocks this year with the team Red Bull’s closest rival in the opening rounds.
“The fight is really, you know, the pack is really tight,” Alunni Bravi continued. “Aston Martin did a big step, now Aston Martin is fighting for the top three positions in the constructors’ championship.
“We expect that the competition will be higher each season. In Formula 1, each year, we raise the bar in terms of technology, in terms of investment.
“This is a continuous battle.”
‘It must give us between two- and three-tenths’
Although Alfa Romeo did introduce a big upgrade package at the British Grand Prix, Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu both admitted it was “not looking as good” as the team had hoped.
The Hinwil-based team will introduce its second big round of updates at the Italian Grand Prix with the 48-year-old conceding it has to be worth “between two and three tenths” to put Alfa Romeo into the fight.
“We have a plan already for the season,” he said. “We expect the next big upgrade around Monza, and then of course another important upgrade around Suzuka. So we have our plan.
“What is important is that we have seen that we need the big upgrades; it’s not enough to have one-tenth.
“Of course, where you need to recover, you need to be able to produce upgrades that allow you to do a significant step.
“It’s not micro, little developments, it’s not marginal gains for us. For us, it’s a matter of each time we introduce an update, it must give us between two- and three-tenths.
“This is a challenge because if it will be an easy task everybody will do it.”