MARANELLO, Italy — Kimi Raikkonen clocked up his first 100 kilometres in the new Alfa Romeo Formula One car on Thursday, after completing 33 laps of Ferrari’s Fiorano test track.
The pre-season shakedown and filming day caught the residents of nearby Maranello by surprise, with the team hitting the track four days ahead of its scheduled launch in Barcelona on Monday. The car was wrapped in a one-off Valentine’s Day-inspired livery, made up of a pattern of Alfa Romeo clover leafs and love hearts.
A small crowd gathered on a nearby overpass to get a preview of the 2019 F1 season, with the black and red Alfa Romeo completing a series of short runs between pit stops. Under F1 regulations, teams are allowed to schedule two filming days outside of official testing and are limited to 100km.
Raikkonen, who moved to the team from Ferrari over the winter, stayed at the wheel of the new Alfa Romeo throughout the day, while new teammate Antonio Giovinazzi was sent to a nearby airport in the morning to collect “the final part needed for the team to assemble the car and head out onto the track”, according to a team press release.
“We had a good session on track,” Raikkonen said. “The car felt good and I was able to get a first impression of the car we will be running this season. We will work on the last few details and head to Barcelona for two weeks of testing. I look forward to getting to know the car better there.”
Simone Resta, Alfa Romeo technical director, added: “After a long winter we are happy to be on track with our new car for the first time. The focus of our work today was on aerodynamic, set-up and cooling checks. “We ran for a total of 33 laps and will use our data to establish how the new regulations will affect the behaviour of our car. The next two weeks which we will spend in Barcelona will be busy and will concentrate on proving the car’s reliability and performance.”
Sauber finished eighth in the constructors’ championship last year after its first full season with Alfa Romeo sponsorship. An extension of the title sponsorship deal was signed over the winter, leading to the name change from Sauber to Alfa Romeo Racing for the start of the 2019 season.
The car, which has not yet been given a chassis name, will be launched in its season-long livery at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona ahead of the first week of testing.