Alfa Romeo has endured two tough seasons in 2020 and 2021 slipping into the third tier of the F1 hierarchy, typically battling with Haas and Williams last season at the back of the pack.
The team finished the 2021 campaign ninth in the constructors’ championship with just 13 points, to enjoy a return to form under the new technical regulations this year.
New drivers Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu gave the team a one-two finish at the season opener in Bahrain, and Bottas was again in contention for points in Saudi Arabia before a cooling problem put him off. forced to retire.
The Finn returned to the top 10 by finishing eighth in Australia, recovering from tricky qualifying which saw both Alfa Romeos retire in Q2 after using an undersized rear wing.
The results left Alfa Romeo sixth in the constructors’ standings after three races and in the thick of the fight in midfield, having already equaled their points tally from last year.
Alfa Romeo F1 chief Vasseur noted it was early days given there were 20 races to go this year, but acknowledged how much nicer this season was proving to be for the team.
“It’s nice to be back, it’s much better to fight with Alpine and AlphaTauri than with the medical car!” Vasseur told Motorsport.com.
“No, it’s a good feeling, and the races are very exciting at the end for us, but I think also for everyone.
Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo C42
Photo by: Alfa Romeo
“We don’t have to pay too much attention to the standings. Again, we still have 20 races to go, and the most important thing is to focus on our development and what we need to improve.
“Because I think we have a lot of room for improvement in the car and the team, and I’m sure if we focus on the right thing then we’ll make a good move.”
Since joining Alfa Romeo from Mercedes under a multi-year deal, Bottas has taken on the role of team boss, helping to set its direction and direct its efforts on the track.
Vasseur said that while the real test of the new partnership would come in tougher times, so far it has proven to be a perfect fit between Bottas and Alfa Romeo.
“You know when it’s going well, it’s going well — very often it’s when it’s not going well that you analyze the relationship between people,” Vasseur said.
“But I’m sure that even with Valtteri we are not happy with qualifying, and we had good talks to understand, and everyone remained positive. Also because we know that in Q1 we were P6 , and the rhythm was there.
“No, the fit is perfect. I’m more than happy.”