This was not the greatest of pre-season tests for the Alfa Romeo team and its new C39.
It appears to be around 0.5s adrift of the Racing Point/McLaren/Renault group and although its lap tally of 735 wasn’t disastrous, it was bettered by every team other than Haas.
A new front wing appeared for the second week of testing, with a different balance between outwash and direct downforce. Although it remains very much an unloaded outboard wing, the throat area beneath the bottom element was changed quite dramatically.
This was run in conjunction with new ‘ear’ vanes either side of the S duct in an attempt at working the airflow of the front end harder beneath the nose. Later, new – very big – rear wing mounting pillars were introduced.
But the car remained a tricky drive, particularly in gusty conditions. Both Antonio Giovinazzi and Kimi Raikkonen suffered spins in the final two days.
Third driver Robert Kubica set the car’s fastest time of the test, heading the times on the first day of the second week.
But insufficient progress was made with the car’s balance to be able to conduct a full race simulation, so it heads to Melbourne still with many questions hanging over it.
Compared even to some of the other midfield runners, it appears to be in an earlier state of preparation.
Gary Anderson’s trackside verdict
It’s a car that doesn’t have the overall downforce but also has a lot more understeer than its immediate rivals.
That balance is clear, as even though it doesn’t have the overall grip the front end is the limiting factor.
The front and rear wing developments they ran in the second test didn’t make a lot of sense to me, the front in particular being something that will make it more sensitive.
As it gets nearer to the ground, the downforce increases, and the front wing won’t stall in some corners, but in others it will.
So sometimes you have a car that might be too pointy, but others the front will wash away.
Both from trackside and looking at the front wing, Alfa Romeo seems a little mixed up with how to address the front wing sensitivity.
We have seen the drivers go off a few times, perhaps caught out by that sensitivity. So Alfa Romeo has a lot to think about.
Best time: 1m16.942s, Robert Kubica, Wednesday week two. 1.210s off the pace
Mileage: 735 laps, 168 off Mercedes’ benchmark
In the news
A full-on qualifying simulation from Robert Kubica on a day when few were doing such running mean Alfa and its new reserve managed to set the pace on the opening day of week two – but not in very representative fashion.
And while it was technically going quickest, the Alfa was attracted some frown from Gary Anderson. Our technical expert was convinced Alfa was bringing new parts that were going to make its weaknesses worse not better.