A (good) surprise for Alfa Romeo’s performance in F1 2022

A (good) surprise for Alfa Romeo’s performance in F1 2022

Valtteri Bottas in Monaco: The Finn got a new lease of life at Alfa Romeo

Photo: Pirelli / Advertising

In this 2022 F1 season one of the good surprises is Alfa Romeo. We can call it Sauber, but if the Italian brand has an agreement since 2019 to put its name on the team, then Alfa Romeo is the same (but if by chance the team wins the race, it will be the Swiss song that plays at the award ceremony).

Not a few (including this one) put Alfa Romeo on the same level as in previous years. The deal with the automaker was expected to help take the team to the next level. But once again we saw a pattern followed: staying behind the pack, trying to use different strategies to get points.

It is worth mentioning the fact of being a customer of Ferrari as a mitigating factor so that the team did not perform well. The contract with Alfa Romeo opened the possibility for them to become the B team of the Italian team (even to pay off the previous debts). That’s why Charles Leclerc and Antonio Giovinazzi became the main drivers. But the supply contract with Ferrari caused him to be locked out of an engine that had power and suspension problems that “eat” the tires.

Things started to change in 2021. First, the negotiations to sell the team to Andretti, which did not happen due to last minute problems. Then, the continuation of Alfa Romeo as a sponsor. The Italian automaker was reassessed for its role in the FCA x PSA merger (which created Stellantis) and its market position as well. The new company decided to bet again and the Italians will follow until 2024, with an “annual evaluation”. It is estimated that the brand pays 30 million dollars a year.

It is worth noting that Sauber still runs the team and is controlled by a group of investors brought in by Marcus Ericsson in 2016. The structure has undergone improvements in recent years, becoming one of the best in Europe. His wind tunnel was used by F1 itself to create new regulations.

For this year, Sauber has chosen to take a slightly different route. He went on to buy a Ferrari engine and stopped. But he decided to make the gearbox at his factory, keeping the internals of Maranello, with several aerodynamic advantages. Realizing that Ferrari’s focus would be on Haas, the technical team led by Jan Monchaux chose to take a cautiously bold approach and make the C42 the lightest car on the grid.

The C42 had limited practice time in Barcelona due to technical problems. Especially in the back train precisely because of the vibration caused by the car hitting the floor. In Bahrain, Bottas, who became the commander of this new phase, showed that the car was capable, although it was still very broken. Ferrari’s new engine helped take advantage of this speed.

When it really went down, Alfa proved its worth. Even rookie Guanyu Zhou showed that the car was worth it by scoring in the first race. Bottas managed to finish 6th. It was a surprise for what the team came up with. And Finn is increasingly comfortable in the role of leader.

The C42 has shown consistent pace that allows him to be considered “better than the rest”, at least with Bottas. For example: in Miami, Finn easily controlled Hamilton. And he had a great run in Spain. What needs to be addressed more is tire management, which ended up being bad in Barcelona.

But knowing how things are, the question that arises is: will the team be able to maintain the rhythm? In retrospect, Sauber has a history of starting well and not being able to improve throughout the year, mainly due to economic reasons. Although Frederic Vasseur, the head of the team, said that the team is in line with its budget. And in recent days, there have been possible talks with Audi about buying the model to be able to use it in its entry in 2026. If that happens, it will be the third German automaker to have a relationship with Switzerland: it started. and Mercedes and then there was the acquisition by BMW.

Let’s see if Alfa Romeo / Sauber can make the big move this year that is expected every year. The name of the carioca samba school would suit the Swiss perfectly: Pro ano is the best.