Weather: clear dusk to night, 23.4-21.7°C air, 29.9-24.5°C track
Kimi Räikkönen went close to a top ten result, finishing 12th in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix after keeping both Ferrari cars at bay for the best part of half the race, as Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN team-mate, Antonio Giovinazzi, crossed the line in P16.
The traditional fireworks filling the air as the cars crossed the line marked the end of the 2020 season: after 17 races in 24 weeks, the most intense campaign in our sport’s history was finally consigned to memory. It did so with a tactical race, with almost no attrition but with a lot still at stake, one that saw Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN finish as the highest-placed Ferrari-engined car after a strong defending display by Kimi.
A relatively uneventful start, in which Antonio and Kimi swapped their starting positions in the first few corners, led to a Safety Car period just ten laps into the race: some of the teams called their drivers in, with Kimi stopping for new hard tyres with the plan to keep that rubber on until the end. The race remained green until the chequered flag, with Antonio eventually stopping halfway through. Kimi, in P12, defended staunchly against the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc, keeping the Monegasque driver behind until the flag, while Antonio, having cleared the Haas pair and Latifi’s Williams, closed the gap to Russell handily but ran out of laps to pull the move for P15.
This result means we finish the season in P8 in the Constructors’ Championship.
Frédéric Vasseur, Team Principal Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN and CEO Sauber Motorsport AG: “We finish the season with a positive performance throughout the weekend: we had one car in Q2 yesterday, we were on the pace with some of the cars who finished ahead of us and we crossed the line as the fastest car with a Ferrari engine, keeping Leclerc and Vettel behind us. We got all we could out of tonight’s race and it was a good performance from everyone in the team: it shows what a big improvement we have made compared to where we started the year. It hasn’t been an easy campaign, with so many races in so little time being a big factor on the team personnel’s conditions and making it really hard to work on the development of the car, a process that would normally be spread over nine months. We did make good steps forward, which is testament to all the good work made both in Hinwil and at the track, and hopefully we will be able to carry this momentum into the winter and the new season.”
Kimi Räikkönen (car number 7):
Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN C39 (Chassis 05/Ferrari)
Race result: 12th
Fastest lap: 1:42.148
Tyres: New Medium (10 laps) – New Hard (44 laps)
“It was a positive race with good pace, especially compared to the last couple of weeks. We were quite close to the guys in front of us but couldn’t really get any more out of tonight. It has been a good way to close a season that was obviously a bit disappointing in terms of results: we knew after testing we’d have a difficult one, but the team made a good recovery and in the end we made some good steps forward. Hopefully we can continue on this trajectory next year, but first let’s enjoy some time off, back home with our families.”
Antonio Giovinazzi (car number 99):
Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN C39 (Chassis 04/Ferrari)
Race result: 16th
Fastest lap: 1:41.675
Tyres: New Medium (27 laps) – New Hard (27 laps)
“It was not the easiest of races, with not much happening after the start. We chose to stay out on mediums when the Safety Car came out, hoping to capitalise on some other neutralisation later, but that never came and this compromised our race. Now a tough season is ending and I think we did all we could. We made good progress in a relatively short time but there’s still much to improve: hopefully we can do more in 2021, so that we can have more fun and fight for the points with a faster car. On the personal side, I am happy with my improvement as a driver, which was my main target for the season, and I want to continue like this next year.”