Date published: September 21 2020

Alfa Romeo are targeting a “clean race weekend” in the Russian Grand Prix to build on Kimi Raikkonen’s points finish at Mugello.

Raikkonen secured his first World Championship points of 2020, and doubled the team’s total, by claiming P9 in the Tuscan Grand Prix – the same position his colleague Antonio Giovinazzi had secured at the season-opener in Austria.

But the Mugello event was an incident-packed one for the flying Finn in particular – he was involved in a first-lap collision which caused the retirements of Pierre Gasly and Max Verstappen, had to dodge the big melee on the Safety Car restart in which his team-mate Giovinazzi crashed out and was later penalised for crossing the white lane to enter the pit lane.

Nevertheless, despite his car having been damaged in that opening-lap shunt, Raikkonen showed decent pace towards the end to split the two Ferraris.

That was encouraging for Alfa Romeo, who at Sochi will try to lift themselves further back up towards the usual midfield runners instead of competing at the rear of the pack with regular backmarkers Williams and Haas.

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Alfa Romeo team principal Frederic Vasseur said in the team’s Russian Grand Prix preview on their official website: “We head to Russia with the very welcome confidence boost of our recent result in Mugello.

“It’s not just the two points giving us morale, but the knowledge of having claimed them with a car that was badly damaged.

“We have made some obvious steps forward recently, as displayed in the last triple-header, and now we have to build on those gains to keep challenging the other teams in the midfield.

“Executing a clean race weekend will now be crucial to maximise our potential, but we can be positive looking forward to Sochi.”

Although he twice finished on the podium in Russia during his Ferrari days, this is not a race Raikkonen looks back on with much fondness.

“I don’t have many good memories about racing in Sochi as for some reason it’s always been a fairly unlucky track for me,” said the 40-year-old.

“But I am not someone who looks at past form too much – my focus is on having a good weekend and getting the most of what our car can produce.

“Having made it to Q2 in the last few races, we have seen we can keep up with the cars around there and fight for a place in the points, so that has to be the target for this weekend as well.”

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