Written by Morgan Holiday and Danny Jones, Edited by Harshi Vashee
At the beginning of the 2021 Formula 1 season, Alfa Romeo would logically have been targeting an eighth place finish in the constructor’s standings, maybe even seventh if Alpine or Aston Martin got it terribly wrong. And while they scored more points than they did in the 2020 season (five more to be exact), the Swiss team will be looking back at the 2021 season as a missed opportunity, and therefore, a failure.
In 2020 Alfa Romeo outscored Williams by eight points, with the British team failing to score at all throughout the year. They would have expected (and hoped) this trend would continue, but an uptick of performance from Williams coming hand in hand with several freak races meant that Williams scored 23 points in the 2021 season, and even achieved a podium finish (albeit for half points as Spa was hardly a real race). While Alfa Romeo, Williams, and Haas continued to sit firmly in their position as the backmarkers of the grid, this year it was Haas who scored no points and Williams who came out on top of the group.
Kimi Raikkonen had an underwhelming final season before his retirement, holding his place amongst the midfield and backmarker drivers to become a background character in most races. Taking into consideration the fact that the car’s performance wasn’t ideal, the only driver we can fairly compare him to is his teammate. Raikkonen was out-qualified by his teammate Antonio Giovinazzi regularly, 13 out of the 22 races, but generally performed better in races. He scored tenth place in Baku and Hungary, and then eighth place in Sochi and Mexico, the former right after he missed two races due to contacting COVID. It’s fair to say that the pair were pretty evenly matched throughout the season, but in the end Raikkonen came out on top points wise, scoring ten to Giovinazzi’s three. He finished 16th in the driver’s standings, ahead of his teammate and the Haas drivers, as well as Williams’ Nicholas Latifi.
Driver Rating – 5/10
Best Race: Russian GP – After qualifying 16th, Raikkonen made up four places on the opening lap of the race. After an early pit stop he fell back down the order, but being one of the first to pit for intermediate tyres after the rain, he made a massive gain to finish eighth at the end.
Antonio Giovinazzi unfortunately has come to the end of his Formula 1 career, as Alfa Romeo is replacing him with Guanyu Zhou for 2022. The Italian driver hoped his performance in 2021 would be enough for the team to keep him, but yet again he failed to impress. Over one lap, Giovinazzi is pretty fast, referenced by him making it into Q3 several times in a car not fast enough to be there, and of course by him out qualifying a former world champion 13 times in a season. But in the races he fell behind, ending the year with only three points to his name and without a Formula 1 drive for the following year. In the races he outscored his teammate 12 times, but two of those times were against Robert Kubica, and against Raikkonen the score is 10 to 10. He finished 18th in the driver’s standings, only ahead of Alfa’s reserve driver Kubica and the two Haas drivers. Overall, Giovinazzi’s season, like the team’s as a whole, was disappointingly anonymous, a sad end to his Formula 1 career.
Driver Rating – 4/10
Best Race: Saudi Arabian GP – Giovinazzi made one of his few Q3 appearances this weekend, qualifying tenth. In all the chaos, safety cars, and red flags, he did well to not fall down the order, and actually finished ninth, ahead of where he started.
It seemed likely this would be ‘The Iceman’s’ last year in F1, and there would never be too much expected from him in an Alfa Romeo, but the Finn had a respectable final season, scoring 10 points, when they were certainly hard to come by for the Italian outfit in 2021. He outscored his teammate, which is about as much as he could do, in a car that was never quite close enough for the midfield. It was a lackluster season in many ways, but does not take away from the incredible career Raikkonen has had.
Driver rating – 6/10
Best Race: Mexico City GP, a quiet but very strong drive to P8. A very respectable performance in a car that was usually comfortably out the points, and scored enough points in that singular race to outscore his teammates the entire season
Many considered Giovinazzi fortunate to have a seat coming into 2021, and it was always clear his seat would be on the line, and that an incredible season would be required. Giovinazzi had some standout moments, in excellent qualis in Monaco, The Netherlands and Italy. However, he was regularly unable to convert these into something meaningful. He should have realistically beaten a 42 year old Raikkonen, especially with his seat at such risk, but scored less than a third of the Finns points, and was clearly not enough for a seat, as Alfa Romeo opted for Guanyu Zhou.
Driver rating – 5/10
Best Race: Monaco GP. Was very close between Monaco and Saudi Arabia, but the carnage in Jeddah is fairly unrepresentative of performance. Giovinazzi reached Q3 in Monaco, and kept quiet, but consistent during the race to claim a solitary point, in a calm and composed performance, in 1 of 2 points finishes in 2021.
The team will consider themselves unlucky, but in a sport where luck plays a major part, you have to accept your failures and try to move on. Hopefully a completely new driver lineup will see Alfa Romeo improve for the 2022 season.
How well do you think Alfa Romeo performed this season, and what do you think they can accomplish in 2022? Let us know!