Alfa's 2020 F1 struggles a "good exercise" in team growth - Vasseur

Alfa Romeo Formula 1 boss Fred Vasseur believes that the Swiss team’s struggles in 2020 were a “good exercise” that ultimately proved beneficial.

Alfa's 2020 F1 struggles a "good exercise" in team growth - Vasseur

Last year Alfa was handicapped by the drop in performance of Ferrari’s power unit, as was fellow customer Haas.

The Maranello engine is much improved this year, and Alfa has also taken a step on the chassis side. Overall the team has made the biggest year-on-year lap time improvement relative to the frontrunners, although thus far it has scored only two points.

Speaking to Autosport in an exclusive interview, Vasseur says that running towards the back of the field last year was "tough", but it further motivated his staff heading into this season.

“As a team, we have to be focused on what we can manage and what is in our hands,” Vasseur said.

“And we have to stay focused on the development of the chassis, on the drivers, try to get the best out of the car on every single weekend.

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“For sure it's much more difficult when you are 18th or 19th. At some stage you could lose the motivation or pay less attention to the small details than when you're fighting for Q3. It's always much easier to get the best from everybody when you're fighting for the front than the back.

“But I think it was a good exercise, honestly, even if it was tough! Everybody stayed very motivated, and we already did a step forward in the last part of the season last year.

Frederic Vasseur, Team Principal, Alfa Romeo Racing, in the team principals Press Conference

Frederic Vasseur, Team Principal, Alfa Romeo Racing, in the team principals Press Conference

Photo by: FIA Pool

“On the chassis side I think that we are on the path of the last stages of 2020, because in the last five or six races we made a decent step forward.

“And I think we did a good aero package based on the new regulations, and together with the step forward on the engine, we are in much better shape than in 2020.”

Alfa is one of the teams that has been obliged to change its rear wing in order to meet the FIA’s stricter deflection test, which comes into force this weekend in France.

The team has had to divert resources from its 2022 project in order to pass the test, much to Vasseur’s frustration.

“The philosophy of F1 and the mentality of F1 is to be at the limit on every single area,” he said. “And when you have a regulation, and you allow a deflection of X for a certain load, the job of every single team is to do it to save weight, to gain on every single area.

“If they come and say, ‘It's not the same load, it's 50% more,’ because that’s the case here, you're out. It means that as a small team, we are struggling.

“We have had to find solutions, we had to stop other development for next year, just because we had to produce new products. I don't want to go deep in details, but it's a decent part of the package.

Kimi Raikkonen, Alfa Romeo Racing C41

Kimi Raikkonen, Alfa Romeo Racing C41

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

“I think it's the same question, the same issue, for the big teams. They are struggling with the limit of the cost cap, and we are struggling with the budget.”

Like Red Bull boss Christian Horner Vasseur believes that the focus should now move to front wing movement.

“We have exactly the same approach, collectively, on the front wing. If you compare the deformation of the front wing, it will be the next topic on the table,” he said.

“Because it's exactly the same story. And the front wing, the impact on the performance is much bigger, because you also changing the aero balance.

“I had a look at some videos, and the movement of the front wing on some cars is mega. I'm not complaining, because there is a test, and they fulfil the test. If they don't, they're out.

“But do we have to change the test on the front wing also? Or you could say that if someone is not able to be at the minimum weight, they change the weight?

“You can't complain about the teams, because everybody is playing his own game. And if someone has the feeling that another team has an advantage, he will fight against them.”

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