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Formula 1

Alfa Romeo was finally punished for its 2022 F1 weakness

by Josh Suttill
3 min read

The Alfa Romeo Formula 1 team’s Monaco Grand Prix weekend began with hopes of a podium but ended with a ninth place finish looking like a good result.

Bottas and Alfa Romeo are no strangers to missing crucial Friday running in 2022 and still delivering.

Bottas missed FP2 in Miami after crashing in first practice but took fifth place on the grid and delivered seventh on Sunday.

At Barcelona, he lost FP2 with an engine issue, but he still finished sixth – and was sure strategy cost him the fourth place he occupied for most of the race.

So, when Bottas only completed two laps in first practice session of the Monaco weekend, you’d be forgiven for thinking it wouldn’t dampen his chances of shock result too much.

But he ended up only narrowly avoiding a Q1 exit and qualified 12th on the grid, meaning that even a well-executed race only yielded a ninth place finish.

In the end, a podium looked like only a distant possibility anyway with the lead four’s advantage over the rest of the field, but there’s no reason why Bottas couldn’t have been in the mix with George Russell and Lando Norris for fifth place, on the evidence of the season so far.

“We missed running with Valtteri in FP1 and we missed also part of the session with Zhou [Guanyu] in FP2,” Alfa Romeo’s trackside engineering chief Xevi Pujolar explained.

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Monaco Grand Prix Saturday Monte Carlo, Monaco

“And then we were getting up to speed in FP3 but then it was too late and in qualifying is when we realised actually that the direction we took, for me was not the correct one.

“We took some decisions that haven’t gone the way we expected on the mechanical side and then it was too late when we realised and that’s it – sometimes we try to push too much and it went like this.”

With Alfa Romeo unable to tweak the car once qualifying had begun it was saddled with a compromised set-up that masked the impressive raw speed that has made the team an outsider podium contender for the first time since 2013, and that instead meant it failed to reach Q3 for only the second time this year.

It’s really the first time its poor practice reliability in 2022 has cost it in a major way, but the team is well aware it can’t continue with this level of poor Friday running or it will be punished more.

“What we need to do is first to have all the sessions, as much as running as possible, and then we’ll have more time to get a better understanding,” Pujolar added.

“Here we try to progress as well as possible, but then things reacted in a slightly different way [to what we expected].

“So, we just need to learn from it and make sure that we come back strong in Baku.”

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Monaco Grand Prix Saturday Monte Carlo, Monaco

Bottas still picked up two points from 12th on the grid – good “damage limitation” as Pujolar remarked – and Bottas himself highlighted a circuit characteristic as a potential weakness of Alfa Romeo’s C42 machine.

“We seem to struggle quite a bit in any corner with big camber or kerbing, so I think we have a small clue what’s up,” Bottas explained.

“What’s important is for us to understand why, maybe we’re lacking something mechanically, the car doesn’t quite fit with these corners.

“In Baku, we’ll have more normal type of corners, there are plenty of 90º corners, not much off-camber or cambers, except on the old city, at the top, so I hope it’s better for us.”

Pujolar targeted a return to the “top of the midfield” in Baku and wants Alfa Romeo to return to the ‘consistency’ that it deviated from in Monaco.

He also made it clear that Alfa Romeo’s ambition is to catch and surpass McLaren for fourth in the constructors’ championship in the coming races – but after Monaco it faces an 18-point deficit in that battle.

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