Alfa Romeo was dealt a blow in its fight with Williams for P8 after an eventful wet-dry Hungarian Grand Prix, in which Williams driver Nicholas Latifi and George Russell not only got their first points of the season on the board but grabbed a 10-point haul to move firmly ahead of Alfa in the constructors’ championship.
Latifi’s and Russell’s seventh and eighth place respectively meant that Williams heads into the summer break with a seven-point lead on the Swiss-based team, which added one point to its tally courtesy of Kimi Raikkonen’s 10th place after both he and Antonio Giovinazzi received a penalty.
Raikkonen was given a 10-second penalty for an unsafe release after a pitstop, while Giovinazzi was hit with a 10-second stop and go for speeding in the pitlane.
Despite the Hungaroring setback, Alfa Romeo believes it can still outscore Williams in the second half of the season.
“It will be not easy, but I think it’s possible,” said Xevi Pujolar, Alfa Romeo’s Head of Trackside Engineering.
“We’ll try. I think at the end of the day it would have been much worse from where they were at the beginning, so I’m still happy about it.
“We wanted to have both cars in Q2, we wanted to have both cars in front of the Williams, so we achieved that.
“On lap one everything is just gone but still we had a chance there. Then they are both ahead, and both of our cars have a penalty. That was even more challenging.
“But now the difference in points, I think it’s not huge and we’ve still got a lot of races to do, so I think we can do that.”
Pujolar says getting both Raikkonen and Giovinazzi into Q2 on Saturdays , like it managed in Hungary, will be the key to grabbing the odd point here and there.
Barring exceptional circumstances like last Sunday, when several contenders were taken out at the start, he’s confident that it will be more difficult for Williams to score more points in the second half of the season than for Alfa Romeo.
“I think under normal racing conditions, we could not achieve it in one go, but if we have still multiple races to go, then this is achievable,” he explained.
“We have got many races to do yet, and I think if we can put both cars in Q2 after the shutdown, we can do that probably.
“On a few occasions I think we can score points. I would say it would be more difficult for [Williams to score points].”
When asked if there are certain circuits coming up that might favour Alfa Romeo in its fight against Williams, Pujolar believes there are no specific tracks that suit his team’s car, but that it has a solid chance on most tracks to be in contention for top 10.
“I think there are no specific tracks. I think in most tracks, we can perform reasonably well if we have both drivers [in Q2].
“I think we can maintain that and maintain that on tracks where you run maximum downforce, in tracks where the efficiency level is a bit higher.
“I don’t see any particular track layout to be doing that from Spa up to the end of the season.”