Frédéric Vasseur, the Team Principal of the Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN team, says this weekend’s Turkish Grand Prix represents an important milestone for the Hinwil-based team, with the outfit celebrating five-hundred races in Formula 1.
The Sauber F1 Team made its debut in Formula 1 at the 1993 South African Grand Prix and scored points that day with JJ Lehto, and although they are now named Alfa Romeo, Sauber are still an integral part of the DNA of the squad.
“The 500th race for the team is an important milestone, one that shows the incredible heritage of this outfit: we are now in a very small group in the company of some of the most historical teams in the sport and that shows the strength of our project,” said Vasseur.
“As an independent team for most of our history, we have shown that it’s possible to build a long-term project and we are confident the best is yet to come – the next 500 races will be even better.”
Vasseur says it would be great to celebrate five hundred races with another good performance, especially on the back of their first two-car points finish of 2020 last time out in the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.
“It would be nice to celebrate this occasion in style with another good performance, especially after the double points finish we scored in Imola, which was a big confidence boost for the team,” he said.
“The progress we have made is a positive, as is scoring points in three of the last five races, but we know there is a lot more work to do before we are where we expect us to be. Returning to Turkey will be another chance to continue on this path: it is another track on which there is not a lot of information available and we can use it to our advantage.”
Kimi Räikkönen is renowned for not paying attention to milestones, but the Finn says it is a big milestone for the team, especially those who have been a part of Sauber/Alfa Romeo for the long term, “I am not very interested in numbers, but it’s a big milestone” says Kimi Räikkönen.
Räikkönen made his own Formula 1 debut with Sauber back in the 2001 Australian Grand Prix and scored a point that day (after the penalisation of Olivier Panis ahead of him), so has played a part in the team’s history.
“This weekend’s event will be race 500 for the team: I am not very interested in numbers, but it’s a big milestone, especially for all the people who have been working for the team in all these years,” commented Räikkönen.
Räikkönen is a former winner of the Turkish Grand Prix having won the inaugural race back in 2005, and he is excited to see what a modern-day car can do around Intercity Istanbul Park. However, he does doubt whether or not turn eight will be as exciting in 2020 as it was in previous years.
“As for the race, it’s nice to come back to a place like Turkey,” said the Finn. “It’s a track that made for good racing in the past, so it will be interesting to see how the modern Formula One cars do on it.
“Everyone talks about turn eight but, with the performance cars have now, it may not be as impressive from within the cockpit: of course, it will be nice to watch, but there are many other corners where a driver can make the difference there.”
Team-mate Antonio Giovinazzi says the team can be proud of reaching the five-hundred race milestone, and he hopes they can celebrate by returning to the points this Sunday, “I am sure everyone is really proud of our history,” says Antonio Giovinazzi.
Points have been hard to get this year with Alfa Romeo having scored only eight points across the opening thirteen races, with Giovinazzi having scored four of those thanks to a ninth place finish in the Austrian Grand Prix and tenth place finishes in the Eifel and Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.
Giovinazzi has never raced before at Istanbul Park, although he is eager to get the weekend underway on Friday having watched footage from the circuit of previous races there.
“It’s going to be a special weekend for the team, 500 races is an incredible milestone and the fact only three other teams ever made it to this number before shows just how impressive an achievement this is,” said Giovinazzi.
“This is a team that feels like a family and I am sure everyone is really proud of our history, so hopefully we will have a good race to celebrate in the best way.
“I have never raced in Turkey, it’s going to be a completely new experience for me but I’ve been watching footage of the last events there and it seems like a great track: I can’t wait to be in the car on Friday.”