Alfa Romeo aim to build on their improved downforce in Miami by bringing an upgrade to the Spanish Grand Prix that follows the “same kind of philosophy.”
Those are the words of Alfa Romeo trackside engineer Xevi Pujolar after Valtteri Bottas spent most of the race in Florida running ahead of both of the Mercedes cars.
In the end, the Finn was undone by a Safety Car and a mistake as he traversed Turn 17 late on, but he came home P7 to score points in four of his first five races as an Alfa Romeo driver.
The circuit in Florida features long straights that require a streamlined car with a powerful engine, as well as slower corners that are exigent of a good downforce package with a stable rear that can handle the acceleration.
Those two are contrasting things, so the Swiss team had to make a choice between one or the other, and they chose to maximise the corners last time out, helping Bottas to six points.
“The package is working,” said Pujolar after the race in Miami.
“It’s a track where we have quite a high content of low-speed corners and on that we knew that we are reasonably OK, but the conditions are quite extreme with the temperature so it has been quite difficult for everyone.
“In terms of track efficiency and the downforce level it was the first time that we got to such a high level. People tried to find the trade-off between top speed and downforce in the low-speed corners and that was OK.”
The Spaniard also divulged that there are more adaptations on the way after this weekend.
“Now we can be reasonably confident [in the Spain upgrade] that it’s developing the same kind of philosophy and should be a good step for Barcelona.
“And there’s more coming, so it’s good at the moment.”
In order to consistently challenge their midfield opponents, the team are probably going to start needing some improved performances from Chinese rookie Zhou Guanyu, who has been out-qualified all five times this season by Bottas, and has not scored any points since his P10 in Bahrain at the start of the year.
Pujolar hopes that both his drivers can get into point-scoring positions, but acknowledges that beating Mercedes is going to be a tough ask.
“For us, coming to [Miami] we were mainly focusing on McLaren, Alpine and AlphaTauri,” he explained.
“But obviously, if we don’t expose ourselves to those three competitors then Mercedes is our target, we are happy to fight Mercedes on top of that as well.
“For the championship, our realistic targets are Alpine, AlphaTauri and McLaren.
“We’ve shown decent performance at all the tracks, and I think we’ll be at the top of the midfield again, with both cars.”
Alfa Romeo are currently fifth in the Constructors’ Championship, 15 points behind McLaren.