Alfa Romeo had its worst result in 2021 since the brand returned to Formula 1. Although they scored 13 World Cup points, five more than in 2020, they went down from eighth to ninth place in the World Cup. The Sauber racing team last finished tenth in the 2017 season.
Team boss Frederic Vasseur admits that he may have misjudged the situation last year. “We took the direction for 2022 very early, already at the end of 2020,” he explains, adding: “Maybe I underestimated the fact that we have to do 22 races with the same car.”
Alfa Romeo was one of the first teams to decide to stop development of the 2021 car entirely in order to be able to focus fully on the new regulations from 2022 onwards. Vasseur admits that it wasn’t easy from a sporting and “psychological” point of view.
Because if you bring regular updates to the car, you always have the “hope” to make it up the field. “And this was  not the case,” admits Vasseur. Because there were no more new parts, it was clear early in the year that Alfa Romeo 2021 would not be able to make any major leaps in performance.
Two eighth places by Kimi Raikkonen in Russia and Mexico were the best individual results in the past season. Teammate Antonio Giovinazzi only managed to score points twice in 22 races. “The raw performance wasn’t that bad,” emphasizes Vasseur.
Alfa Romeo has to let Williams pass in the Formula 1 World Championship
“I think we’ve made a step forward in comparison,” said the team boss. Nevertheless, they lost a position to Williams in the World Championship and, with Haas, could only beat the second Ferrari customer team in the field. According to Vasseur, however, this does not reflect the true balance of power.
“If you look at the average in qualifying, then we were faster than our direct opponent Williams. We were also faster than Williams in the races. We ended up ahead of Williams about 14 times in the race,” said Vasseur. In fact, Alfa Romeo was able to regularly beat Williams in the past season.
However, there were often no points for this. In 2021, an Alfa driver finished in thankless eleventh place seven times alone. The Williams drivers often did worse, but were there in the important situations. In this context, Vasseur mourns the loss of “two good opportunities” in Budapest and Spa.
Alfa Romeo fails in Belgium
“In Spa we didn’t do a good job in qualifying and therefore didn’t score any points,” he recalls of the non-race in Belgium, in which Williams scored points with both cars and Russell in second thanks to his strong qualifying even by far best Williams result in many years.
Budapest was even more “frustrating” because you couldn’t benefit from the chaotic circumstances there either and ended up behind both Williams drivers, who each scored points. Eighth place in the World Championship would have been possible for Alfa Romeo even without updates if the season had gone a little differently.
Nevertheless – or perhaps because of this – Vasseur does not regret his decision. “We had to make a decision: Do we not only want to invest a lot of money but also time, resources and so on in 2021?” he recalls the situation about a year ago.
Ultimately, it was concluded that 2021 would not be much more than eighth place in the World Championship anyway, whereas 2022 offers much more “potential” for teams like Alfa Romeo due to the new rules. Now we have to wait and see whether the “bet” we made a year ago will pay off.