Valtteri Bottas’ car caught fire in qualifying at Imola. Alfa Romeo decided to replace the chassis completely, which made the Finn lose the VT2 entirely. In Miami, Bottas shot off the track in the first practice session. The damage was so bad that the Finn didn’t play in the second session either. Nonetheless, he finished fifth in Italy and looked set to finish at that position in the United States as well. In the final stages, however, Bottas came off the line, went wide and touched the wall. As a result, both Mercedes drivers were level and the Finn finished seventh.
Alfa Romeo team boss Frederic Vasseur hopes the Spanish Grand Prix weekend will be free of such problems. “A flawless weekend would be nice,” says the Frenchman. “It could be a little quieter. In any case, it’s important that we concentrate on our work and continue to develop the car. In Barcelona we will come with a big update. We’re also now focusing on the production of new parts, which is a pretty big problem for us.” When asked what the new package entails, Vasseur replies. “The ground is important when it comes to performance. Working on that Everyone. For us it’s not just the ground, you just have to keep an eye on the FIA documents.”
Xevi Pujolar, technical director of the stable, also knows that other teams are coming with new equipment. “I won’t go into details, but our performance is getting better and better,” said Max Verstappen’s former Toro Rosso engineer. “There is also the question of how much the competition needs, that’s quite a lot. With updates, the difference from our direct competitors will definitely remain or we can increase it. Everyone brings something, of course, so I can.” Don’t say that in a “We’re in a very comfortable position because we’re up front now. It’s about who brings the most efficient updates. At some point it gets harder. Teams like “Mercedes and McLaren are going to be big making progress, wait for that. We’re still in the same boat on the budget cap, although of course there are more factors at play.”
The Spaniard believes Alfa Romeo is capable of beating Mercedes in certain Grands Prix, but believes the focus should be on direct competition throughout the season. “In Miami, the focus was on McLaren, Alpine and AlphaTauri,” Pujolar continued. “If those three aren’t in play, Mercedes is our target. We’re obviously happy to face Mercedes. For the championship, our realistic opponents are these other three teams.” When asked about Barcelona’s ambitions, he replies. “Same as the first five races and that’s a struggle with everyone. We’ve performed well at all tracks. I think we’re in the upper midfield with both cars.”