Frederic Vasseur is happy with the way Alfa Romeo are progressing this season, but feels fate has conspired against them.
The Swiss-based team were very much part of the bottom division last season, competing with Williams and Haas, but appear to have a quicker car this term.
Alfa Romeo have been producing some eye-catching performances in free practice and even at times in qualifying. However, they have been finding things more difficult on Sundays.
Still to get off the mark for the campaign, the quest for points was not helped when, starting lap two of the Portuguese Grand Prix, Kimi Raikkonen became distracted when changing a setting on his steering wheel and hit the back of his team-mate Antonio Giovinazzi’s car, the Finn breaking his front wing and having to retire.
But with an improved Ferrari engine in the back, Alfa Romeo know they have more speed if only they can put all the key aspects of a race weekend together.
“Compared to last year, we have made a big step forward in terms of the pure performance of the car,” said team principal Vasseur, quoted by Motorsport-total.com.
“Last year, at Barcelona we were 2.8% away from the fastest time in the first practice session, this time it was 1.5%. That’s one and a half, even if the race pace is a different story.”
Once again we put up a good fight in the midfield, but still just outside the points zone.
And so we keep on working hard in preparation for the next opportunity.
— Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN (@alfaromeoracing) May 9, 2021
Regarding the incidents in races, there is an old adage that ‘you make your own luck’ but Vasseur feels fortune has not favoured Alfa Romeo this year.
As well as the Portimao incident with Raikkonen running into Giovinazzi, the Italian also suffered an unfortunate twist as his early pit-stop under the Safety Car at the Spanish Grand Prix was ruined when it was found a deflated tyre was about to be fitted.
A completely new set had to be brought out and Giovinazzi fell to the back of the field, eventually finishing 15th.
“You have to be in the right place at the right time, you have to avoid mistakes and maybe we are having a few problems getting it all together right now,” added Vasseur.
“I’m not worried. As long as the pace is there, it will pay off at some point.”
The 52-year-old Frenchman also praised Giovinazzi, who has stepped up in comparison to his much more experienced team-mate Raikkonen in qualifying especially, where he holds a 3-1 head-to-head advantage this season – which is their third as a partnership.
“It is certainly not easy next to Kimi. In the beginning, he had a few problems finding his place but he is becoming more and more confident,” said Vasseur of the 27-year-old who finished 12th in Portugal, just behind Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz.
“Twelfth place is not our goal, but if we finish right behind Sainz in all races I think we will also score.”