until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Formula 1

Reliability risks squandering Alfa’s ‘clear step forward’

by Edd Straw
4 min read

New Alfa Romeo signing Valtteri Bottas says his “biggest concern is getting the race distance done” in the Bahrain Grand Prix after a series of reliability problems interrupted the team’s pre-season running.

The Alfa Romeo C42 had a troubled time in the first test in Barcelona, completing only 175 laps and ending up the slowest of the 10 teams. Some of the reliability problems it suffered were a result of aggressive porpoising, but others later in the test were independent of that.

In Bahrain, Alfa Romeo was the sixth-fastest car on outright fastest times and racked up 343 laps – the fourth-highest tally of the three days of running. But there were a number of reliability problems, including repeated hydraulic issues.

2022 Test2 Totalmileage

While good progress was made with the pace of the car, which is in the congested midfield pack, there are question marks over its reliability.

“I’ll be more confident once we speak with the team next week and I hear that we understand all the issues completely and that they have a solution for next weekend,” said Bottas at the end of the test.

Mar 13 : Our final verdict on F1 testing

“At the moment, the biggest concern is getting the race distance done because we’ve had multiple different kinds of issues in these tests. But we’ve always been able to fix them and we hope there are no issues coming up.

“Otherwise, in terms of performance, my feeling now is that the team has made a clear step forward from the last year and that’s nice to see. In testing, you can’t really see the whole picture but we’re not far off from where we should be.”

Alfa Romeo managed its porpoising problems in Bahrain through a combination of ride height changes and tweaks to the floor, which means it now has a raceable car.

Although further tweaks are expected to the floor in the coming races to improve this further, there are no concerns this will cause a problem during the Bahrain Grand Prix weekend. But the wider reliability is a question mark.

Alfa Romeo is known to be one of the teams in the best shape in terms of hitting the minimum weight limit.

Even though the Alfa is reckoned not to be at the absolute maximum permitted wheelbase allowed by the regulations unlike some cars, technical director Jan Monchaux is adamant that the reason for the C42’s encouraging weight situation is in the rigorous focus on minimising weight the car – especially as its car is comparable in size and wheelbase to rivals.

“I don’t think there’s anything on the car in terms of topology that is so different from the others that it could explain that – maybe there’s a swing of a few kilos across the pitlane, ” Monchaux told The Race when asked if the configuration of the car played a part in its good position on weight.

“I would think it’s just we had probably a bit more time and we took more risk which maybe will pay off, or will be a lesson for the future that we have to be less aggressive.

“I can’t tell you if we’re right or not. We can speak again in a couple of races and I’ll let you know if we were too aggressive or if we did everything right.”

The team prioritized 2022 development over last year’s car and has invested a huge amount of effort in the C42 in the hope of taking a step forward this season.

Monchaux, who originally joined the Sauber team as head of aero in 2018, was appointed technical director the following year. This means that the 2022 car is the first true clean-sheet-of-paper design he has overseen, with an aggressive approach taken to making the most of the opportunity presented by the new regulations.

Motor Racing Formula One Testing Day Three Sakhir, Bahrain

He says that Alfa’s apparent advantage in terms of weight over some teams is unlikely to last long given the progress being made by rivals.

Monchaux also suggested it was a consequence of the team heavily biasing its work last year to the 2022 car given the importance of the new rules in the team reestablishing itself as a strong midfield force in F1.

“We have been working very, very hard on the weight,” he said.

“We certainly had potentially more time than other teams. If we had been fighting for the world championship until the last race of 2021, certainly some of my resources wouldn’t have been going to the ‘22 car. We are reasonably happy. What the others have done or not, I can’t comment.

“A reliability fix can rapidly cost you a kilo or two kilos here and there, so it’s easy to add weight on the car, therefore I wouldn’t like to be too presumptuous.

“It seems we are OK right now, maybe in five races’ time once we have fixed all of the small ‘diseases’, it won’t be that nice anymore.

“And I’m pretty sure all the other teams that are claiming they are struggling with the weight are going to come later by Barcelona with some weight-saving measures to try also get closer to the [minimum] weight.”

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Email
  • More Networks