Alfa Romeo launches updated F1 car, but already prioritising 2022 redesign
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PARIS - Former Formula One champion Kimi Raikkonen was full of enthusiasm on Monday as the veteran racer's Alfa Romeo team unveiled its new car for the coming season.
The 41-year-old said the next campaign was a leap in the dark, but that the Italian team would make the most of it.
"First of all it's nice to see the new car," Raikkonen said at the launch in Warsaw.
"We are in an area of unknown, there's some rule changes and how's that going to impact everybody and where we are going to be," added the veteran of well over 300 Grands Prix.
"Hopefully we are better off than we were last year and we'll get some idea in testing in a couple of weeks, and in one month's time in the first race we'll really know where we are.
The Finnish driver, the 2007 F1 champion with Ferrari, would not speculate on results but promised top performances.
"We'll do our best wherever we end up," he said.
Raikkonen and his 27-year-old stablemate Antonio Giovinazzi came 16th and 17th last season with four points each.
Mountain to climb for 2022
Alfa Romeo will not develop its new Formula One car beyond the summer in order to give itself the best shot at a step up in 2022, technical director Jan Monchaux said on Monday.
With sweeping new rules next year and a budget cap now in place, the Swiss-based team cannot afford to spend time and money on improvements that may bring scant reward in terms of points.
"We've got a mountain to climb for 2022," Monchaux told Reuters in a video interview after the online launch of the red and white C41 car in Warsaw's Grand Theatre, the venue reflecting Polish sponsors Orlen.
"We've got to do a complete car, under the budget cap, and that is a monster challenge for a company like ours."
Next year represents a real chance to reset the clock and return to the midfield, after finishing eighth for three years in a row.
The current cars are a close evolution of the 2020 ones with some aerodynamic tweaks, but 2022 marks a big change of direction with bigger 18-inch tyres also thrown into the equation.
"The more time we spend on the '21 (car), the less resource we will have to make a good job on the '22," said Monchaux.
He said the team had been 'carrying an anchor' since 2017, when they raced as Sauber and finished 10th overall and as much as four seconds off the pace.
"If you start a new era with such a deficit, it's simply game over," he said. "So 2022, we can't miss that deadline and I think most of the teams will be thinking the same.
"We won't bring updates after the summer, that's quite clear.
"You might have some people fighting for the title, they might be willing to push (development) longer because it's a unique opportunity to be champion, but we are certainly not going to do that.
"We will stop way earlier than in a normal season, also because of the budget cap."
Reuters & Agence France-Presse