Alfa Romeo-branded Sauber remains one of the sport’s great independent outfits, an intrepid privateer dating back to 1993 and its former eponymous owner, Swiss motorsport icon Peter Sauber.
Across more than 25 years in F1, the Hinwil squad has been a hotbed for developing young, talented racers: men like Felipe Massa, Robert Kubica, Sebastian Vettel, Sergio Pérez…
… and Iceman Kimi Räikkönen, who made his debut with Sauber in 2001, and who’s returned on a two-year deal - after his second stint with Ferrari.
SOUNDBITE (English) KIMI RÄIKKÖNEN,
2007 F1 WORLD CHAMPION:
“I don’t know if I made the right decision. In my heart I made the right decision and that’s all what matters for me. Obviously the results side is: we always want to do well and you want to always win but in the end there’s always one car or one team at the end of the year that will win.”
As expected, Räikkönen has been Mister Consistency with points at eight of 12 races ensuring a top-ten place in the drivers’ standings - four points up on Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat, who’s scored a podium.
Ferrari’s influence saw reserve driver Antonio Giovinazzi make his debut - the first Italian full-time since Jarno Trulli and Vitantonio Liuzzi in 2011.
SOUNDBITE (English) ANTONIO GIOVINAZZI,
F1 DRIVER, SAUBER:
“It’s really nice to have another Italian driver back after eight years, and of course it's really special, Italian driver with an Italian brand like Alfa Romeo.”
Giovinazzi has done well against his 2007 F1 World Champion teammate, outqualifying him four times in the first 12 races, including three of the last five, but has been outraced 10-1, with just one point on the board.
The Italian’s focus in the second half of the season has to be evening the score in races and banking points, but on balance - it looks like he’s done enough to keep his seat for 2020.
Ensuring both drivers feel stable to push, as the second half of the season beckons for Alfa Romeo Racing.