Alfa Romeo Racing Orlen Formula One Team’s Kimi Raikkonen says that the first race of a new season is always a special moment as the Iceman prepares to begin his 18th season in the sport having made his Grand Prix debut in Melbourne, Australia at the 2001 Australian Grand Prix.

Following three days of testing with Ferrari-powered C41 with no problems, Raikkonen is looking forward to getting back on track this weekend at the Sakhir circuit saying:

The first race of the season is always a special moment, mostly because I have missed the racing. It’s nice to be back in the car for testing, but what makes this sport fun is driving wheel to wheel and you only get that in races, so there is something to look forward to. I am not looking at the times from the three days we spent here two weeks ago, because there is no point trying to get any idea about what to expect: soon enough, on Saturday, we will have an indication of where everyone is and what kind of battles we have this year. So far, we just have to focus on our work, on improving what we had in testing and on making the most of every opportunity.

The Hinwil-based outfit is one of only two teams who did not make changes over the off-season and Frédéric Vasseur, Team Principal of Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN and CEO Sauber Motorsport hopes that this is an advantage for the team saying:

“We are very excited about the start of the season – it’s normal. Hopefully, we will still be so after the first weekend! Jokes aside, we approach this race with confidence in ourselves: we have done a good job during testing, with excellent reliability giving us plenty of mileage, no mechanical issues, and good feedback from the drivers, and we are eager to turn this positive start into a rewarding first race. The big question mark is, obviously, where we stand compared to our rivals: it’s something only the track will say. We just need to give our best and have a flawless weekend, then we will assess the situation and have a clearer idea of what we can expect from the season. We expect a close fight across the whole of the midfield and we know the margins are going to be small, so we will need to extract all we can from our package: we have stability on our side, with an established line-up and no internal changes, so we need to make this advantage count.”

Antonio Giovinazzi is looking forward to what he describes as an important year saying:

I am really excited about the new season, my third full year in the sport. I feel ready, both in body and mind, and I can’t wait to experience the feeling of a race weekend once again. I am not making any predictions on where we will be against our rivals, but I am confident we can have a good season. There is a really good spirit within the team, people are feeling positive and we’re all walking with our heads held high, so we are approaching the first race with the right mindset. We all know how crucial the start of the season is: last year, we were able to score points right at the first race and they proved very important for the rest of the campaign, so the aim is to once again start with the right foot and boost the team ahead of this important year.

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