Alfa Romeo F1 Team ORLEN made the long trek around the planet to reach Melbourne for this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix. It’s a welcome return for Albert Park, which Formula One last visited in 2020 – the race that never was, as the sport abandoned the event on Friday, before a wheel was turned, Covid became a household name and the pandemic became part of our daily lives.
Lots has happened since: two full seasons of racing, thrills and spills, new tracks and new faces. We travel to Melbourne to find a new Albert Park, too, as the circuit layout went through the biggest changes since its inclusion in the calendar in 1996: changes aimed at making it faster, better for overtaking and for delivering a show to the level of the two incredible races that opened this 2022 season.
Alfa Romeo F1 Team ORLEN reaches Australia in a confident mood: sure that the C42 will perform around this track; convinced that points are in our sights if we deliver a flawless weekend; safe in the knowledge drivers, crew and team back at base are working in unison to bring home a good result.
The team scored points in its last Albert Park outing, in 2019. It was a race won by Valtteri Bottas, the reigning ruler of the Australian Grand Prix, at the start of a season that would see Zhou Guanyu make his F2 debut. It feels like a long time ago, and it is – both in a chronological and figurative sense. It’s 2022 now, and we are the most confident we’ve been in ages. To whom it may concern, we’re back down under and we mean business.
Frédéric Vasseur, Team Principal
“It’s great to be back in Melbourne after all this time: it’s a place that always gives the warmest welcome to our sport and our team, and it’s proof of the global appeal of Formula One. We approach the Australian Grand Prix with confidence and a little bit of excitement: the changes made to this track are some of the most radical to have happened to Albert Park and we’re eager to discover how they will affect the racing. Of course, we travel to Australia with the aim to get back to scoring ways: we know we can compete to be the towards the front but we also know how every race is an opportunity for all the teams to make another step forward. The development race will have a huge impact this year and we want to find out if the work we have done since Jeddah has paid dividends when it comes to the track.”
“I love coming to Australia: I have been spending quite a bit of time here lately, most recently over the winter break, as my partner is from South Australia, and it’s one of my favourite places, with so many things to see and do. For this and many other reasons, I am happy we get to race in Melbourne again: Albert Park is a very interesting circuit and the work done ahead of this year’s race, as well as the new-gen cars, should make the racing a lot more exciting. We are keen to show our pace here as we know we can fight most cars on the grid: we are confident we can bring home points but it’s important we do our job properly as we have seen how competitive the whole grid is.”
“Melbourne is one of those special races – I remember watching the opening Grand Prix of the season over the years and the special feeling that gave me. I am really excited about being here and I can’t wait to get to know the track, as this is somewhere completely new to me. The first practice session will be very important to get full confidence around the new layout but I am not too concerned about it – my main focus is to extract the most out of the car, as in every other weekend. We come here on the back of two strong races but we have seen how executing the weekend well is key to bringing home the points: I am confident we will have another performance at the level we expect and fight towards the front. I am feeling really at ease within the team, working with the crew and Valtteri, and this confidence translates into bigger expectations. To bring home a good result in Melbourne, a city with such a big Chinese community, would be sweet.”