It's been quite the season
Image supplied by Stellantis
Alfa Romeo F1 Team ORLEN prepares to close the 2022 season with the final race of the Formula One World Championship, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
The team heads to the Yas Marina circuit in sixth place in the constructors’ championship, five points ahead of its nearest rivals and determined to close the deal and bring home this important result.
The curtain is ready to fall on this year. Abu Dhabi is ready, once more, to be the scenic setting for a season finale, its marina decked in glittering lights: and while the championships may be decided already, this race is everything but a dead rubber. The fight is on not for the crowns, but for important results in their own sake: in the team’s case, to clinch sixth place in the championship, a result that would mark a massive step forward from previous years.
22 races on, the finish line is in sight. It’s been a long season, started in the crisp winter mornings of Barcelona, on days when our world felt crumbling as the C42 was off in the worst possible way; a feeling that turned to elation in a matter of weeks, as we opened our tally with a double-points finish in Bahrain, the season opener. It’s been a season of ups and downs, dizzying the former, demoralising the latter: to its credit, the team, not even in the worst moments, ever lost sight of its targets, ever let go of its motivation, ever lost the belief in its capabilities. It’s been a season that led us to the joys of Imola, the thrill of Montreal and the excitement of Interlagos; but that asked us to suffer the heartbreaks of Baku, the feeling of lost opportunities in Austin, and that opening lap in Silverstone.
The team approaches the final race with a clear sense and understanding of what has been, what needs to be done and what this will mean for the future. Clear minds in somewhat tired bodies. It’s been a long season, one that subjected us to heat, cold, sun and rain; one that led us from deserts to bustling cityscapes, new venues and classic tracks, sumptuous or bare-bones settings for our racing. Our crew shouldered it all in good spirits, relying on each other as the on-the-road family we are: we gained new friends, lost some who moved on, built on our sense of a common, shared experience to overcome this challenge and push for more. It’s been a season that asked everything to the staff back in Hinwil, working around the clock to support those giving it all around the world. It’s been a season to feel grateful for the support we have – from our colleagues, our friends, our families and our fans, who have made us feel proud like never before.
It's been a long season at home and on the road, sustenance coming from bleary eyed takeaways in the Ops Room back at base, late night shopping mall sushi, steaming Baku casserole stews and endless Texan barbecues; one powered by countless cups of coffee and our incredible catering staff – the guys and girls that kept us going.
It’s been a fun season, a hard season, a learning season: and now it’s coming to an end. In the venue where the biggest prize of all was so controversially contested last year, we now line up to fight not for a lesser prize, but for one that means the world to us. The finish line is in sight: the objective of a season is in front of us – gleaming, bejewelled, within reach, but still requiring one last effort to grasp it.
It’s been a long season; it’s been quite the season. Let’s finish it the way it deserves to be done.
Frédéric Vasseur, Team Principal:
“A long and intense season of racing comes to an end this weekend in Abu Dhabi: it’s been a year of fundamental changes for our team, with both new regulations and a new driver line-up. It seems just yesterday that we were starting our 2022 campaign strongly with a double points finish in Bahrain, and now we head back to the Middle East for the final chapter of the season. Over the course of 22 races, there have been several highs and a few lows, and I can consider myself pleased with the job that has been done. It’s been a big effort for everyone in the team, both trackside and back at base, but now the finish line is in sight. The performances we have been showing over the last few races gave us a great confidence boost, and the points we brought home have been a vital reward in our quest to clinch the sixth place in the championship. Our job is not done yet: if we keep up with the momentum and the good pace we had in Brazil, we can again get in the mix with the midfield and secure the position we want in the standings.”
Valtteri Bottas (Car 77):
“The 2022 season wraps up in Abu Dhabi: it’s been a busy year, and I am glad to be getting some well-deserved time off with my family and friends soon. My first year with the team has been really good, with a strong start and a slightly more challenging second part of the season, but overall above expectations. I am glad to have started this journey with the team and I am confident about the future. The points we scored in recent races recently gave us a further advantage on our closest championship rivals, but we still have a job to finish: we showed strong pace last week in Brazil, which lets us head to Abu Dhabi with confidence. I quite enjoy this track, where I finished on the podium twice in the recent years and won in 2017; we have one more chance to do well this weekend, both for us and the team back at base in Hinwil, and we’ll do our best to nail that and finish our season on a high. Carrying this momentum into the winter would be the best way to head into the break.”
Zhou Guanyu (Car 24):
“My rookie season is coming to an end this week, and in some ways, it feels like the whole 12 months just flew by. What a year it has been! It’s safe to say I grew a lot over the course of the year, both as a driver and as a person, and I’m just looking forward to seeing what more we can achieve with the team next year. The team made me feel at home from the start and everyone, starting from Fred, the engineering team and Valtteri but including everyone trackside and in Hinwil, has played a big role in making me grow race after race. I’ve enjoyed this journey so far and I am keen to have one final good result this year to repay the team of this first season together. I have quite enjoyed racing in Abu Dhabi in the past, having also been on the podium a couple of times in Formula 2. Our pace in Brazil was strong, and it was a bit of a shame not having managed to fully take advantage of that, but I am heading into the final race weekend of the year feeling motivated to give it all out there and help the team closing the deal on sixth place in the championship.”