Alfa Romeo are having a much harder time of things in 2023 compared to 2022. Last year, the team managed to score points in seven of last year’s first nine races. This year, that number has dwindled to just four top ten finishes in the first 12 races. The managing director, Alessandro Alunni Bravi, blames the second half of 2022’s lack of development with driver, Valtteri Bottas, saying they’ve simply been “out-developed.”
Alfa Romeo managed to finish sixth in the Constructors’ Championship, but that looks unlikely this year as they stand at ninth with just nine points with Alpine in sixth with 57 points.
Valtteri Bottas believes their good start to 2022 was more due to Alfa Romeo being the only team to meet the weight targets prescribed by the new regulations. He goes on to state that the lacklustre second half of 2022 was more representative of their capabilities.
“I think in the first like five, six races of last year, for sure it looked maybe a bit better than what it was because of some teams having issues, and we were one of the only teams on the weight limit,” Bottas explained.
“Then the mid-season and the end season probably was more representative like where we were. But even from that, we were expecting to make a step.”
Trackside engineer, Xevi Pujolar, instead points to other teams’ development rates as being higher than Alfa Romeo’s, especially in the production of parts which he acknowledges needs to be improved “to be more aligned with the competition.”
Bravi says it’s a mixture of both scenarios with this year’s performance having been hampered by last year’s slump which meant that Alfa Romeo had taken a “step back” this year.
“We cannot compare this season with last season,” Bravi told Speedcafe. “Last season, we reached P6, which was the best result in a decade for our team.
“But we also did, in the second part of the season, we did a step back, and so we started from that point.”
Bottas agrees with Bravi saying, “We’ve been out-developed, yes. Also, the way the car was born, just the pure performance level was not where we wanted. Ever since then everyone’s improving, and some teams have made big steps – like McLaren recently.”
The Hinwil-based team are planning to introduce another big round of upgrades at Monza which they admit would have to improve performance by “between two- and three-tenths” to put them back in the fight.
“We have a plan already for the season,” Bravi continued. “We expect the next big upgrade around Monza, and then of course another important upgrade around Suzuka. So we have our plan.
“What is important is that we have seen that we need the big upgrades; it’s not enough to have one-tenth.
“It’s not micro, little developments, it’s not marginal gains for us. For us, it’s a matter of each time we introduce an update, it must give us between two- and three-tenths.”
What’s wrong with the car that’s preventing them from that increase in performance? Nothing in particular, according Bottas.
“There’s no one particular area of the car, or team, or factories [that are weak],” Bottas said. “Just small things here and there combined. So we just need to keep outworking other teams. That’s the only solution.
“[We must] look to the future and make a clear plan. Obviously, there’s been quite a few changes in the team, in the management and big roles. There’s more people coming later this year, so there’s still a bit of restructuring going on and the results of those obviously we won’t see this year – that’s going to be in the future.”