Valtteri Bottas has revealed the key weakness of the Alfa Romeo team will be addressed over the coming months, as they look ahead to 2023.
Alfa Romeo have had a reasonable 2022 season, with the Hinwil-based squad racking up 52 points – they currently occupy sixth place in the Constructors’ Championship with six races remaining this season.
It’s been a year of change for Alfa Romeo, having replaced their previous driver line-up of Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi for the incoming Valtteri Bottas and rookie Zhou Guanyu.
The team’s C42 has been a solid performer in terms of pace, although reliability has been a notable weakness on-track. But Bottas has identified a more critical weakness regarding the team itself, which is set to be rectified over the coming months.
As one of F1’s smaller teams in terms of amount of personnel, Alfa Romeo’s fewer numbers have resulted in compromises being made during the 2022 season.
With F1’s strict budget cap now allowing teams to work more strictly to set financial figures, Alfa Romeo are actually set to hire more people for the season that will be their last under the name of the Italian marque – Sauber’s partnership with Alfa Romeo will conclude at the end of 2023 before reverting to their long-term name.
But it’s full steam ahead for the F1 team, as Bottas revealed more staff will mean more updates can be brought to the car.
“One of the problems we’ve encountered is related to the production speed of different components – the team has taken this aspect very seriously,” he said in an interview with the Italian subsidiary of Motorsport.com.
“We are aware that we need more resources because we found ourselves having projects brought to the wind tunnel but not realised for lack of staff. Next year, we will have more staff available and it will certainly be an important step for the team’s growth.
“We have a good structure but we need more people. At the moment, there are 500 of us. But, to give an example, at Williams, there are 750. So we know what we are missing, the team is looking for personnel, and the budget for next year is not a problem.”
Bottas also revealed that the development of this year’s car hasn’t come to a complete halt, given the carryover in the regulations into 2023.
“Ours is a long-term project, we are focused on next season, even if we have some updates that should arrive at the Japanese Grand Prix,” he said.
“Among the things we have learned during this championship are also the reasons that led us to start well and to lose some ground race after race.”
Alfa Romeo/Sauber a team on the rise
Alfa Romeo Sauber are in the process of recovering quite nicely from the doldrums they were in just five years ago. Struggling for any sort of competitiveness as a fully independent team, Sauber finished with just five points at the end of the 2017 season – less than 20% of what ninth-place finishers McLaren managed.
Hinwil has gone through a revolution of sorts since then, with a team rebrand taking place during 2018 as Alfa Romeo came onboard as a partner – the funding from this helped to steady the ship and, just a year later, the project was even tempting enough for the ousted 2007 World Champion Kimi Raikkonen to sign up after his stint at Ferrari came to an end.
However, after reasonable seasons in 2019 and 2020, 2021 proved a very challenging year as neither Raikkonen or Giovinazzi had a strong year at the wheel of a less competitive C41.
The refresh of the driver line-up, together with the revolution offered by the new technical rules, have seen Alfa Romeo become a respectable midfield runner again, with sixth place in the championship unlikely to be challenged unless something unusual happens for the likes of Haas or AlphaTauri.
The timing of the announcement of the withdrawal of Alfa Romeo, made at the end of August, came just hours after the announcement from Audi that they will enter F1 as an engine supplier in 2026 – far from coincidental.
Audi are yet to confirm what team(s) they will be supplying or partnering with, with Sauber the obvious candidate – even if team boss Frederic Vasseur couldn’t be drawn on the topic when he was asked whether Audi could supply, or even outright purchase, the Sauber team.
“No, you don’t have to speed up the process,” he said.
“The announcement was about the new engine for 2026. I think it’s big, big news for F1 to have another engine supplier and they are focused on this.
“We are speaking about four years’ time and we are not speaking about next week, step by step we will see what could be the future, but so far the announcement was just about the engine.”