The Sauber car was rebranded Alfa Romeo in 2019. In a nice touch the Alfa Romeo C38 continued Sauber’s ‘C’ lineage. The initial being a reference to ‘Christiane', wife of founder Peter Sauber.
An entirely new driver line-up featured Kimi Raikkonen and Italian rookie Antonio Giovinazzi. Some 13 years after an Italian last won a Grand Prix: Giancarlo Fisichella in Malaysia, 2006.
SOUNDBITE (English): ANTONIO GIOVINAZZI
ALFA ROMEO F1 DRIVER:
“The Alfa Romeo name has a list of history in Formula 1. It’s the first name that won the world championship in F1. And for an Italian driver with an important brand like Alfa Romeo, it’s a perfect combination, I’d say.”
The performance level stagnated. The team finished eighth in 2018 and eighth again in 2019. A significant proportion of the team’s 57 points were scored in Brazil, where Raikkonen was fourth and Giovinazzi fifth.
The Finn also scored a brace of seventh places in Bahrain and Spain.
While the C38 benefited from the potency of Ferrari’s power unit, the team hit a bit of a development cul-de-sac in the second half of the year.
It confused itself with a significant car upgrade in Singapore, which also compromised Sochi and Japan. Respected technical director Simone Resta being recalled to Ferrari didn’t help...
There were also problems with the efficacy of the team’s tyre modelling. Being unique among F1 teams in not having a driver-in-the-loop simulator, was another handicap. But one due to be solved soon.
While Giovinazzi finished five slots behind 12th-placed Raikkonen in the drivers’ championship, their qualifying head-to-head in races shows a closer battle with just 12:9 in favour of F1’s second most experienced man. An average gap of just a tenth of a second to the 25-year-old rookie. Both go again for the team in 2020.