Alfa Romeo chief Frederic Vasseur has urged the team not to throw in the towel on its 2019 Formula 1 campaign, stressing that minor gains will assist its cause.
Alfa Romeo, and Kimi Raikkonen, were regularly towards the front of the midfield through the opening half of the campaign, but have regressed in recent rounds.
Raikkonen has not scored since Formula 1’s summer break, with Alfa Romeo’s tally boosted only by the three points amassed by team-mate Antonio Giovinazzi.
It has left Alfa Romeo eighth in the standings, now 17 points behind Racing Point, which has pulled clear in recent events.
“We head to Japan with the commitment and motivation to get back into the points immediately,” said Vasseur.
“We must not forget we have been scoring in two of the last three races, so putting both cars in the points is a realistic objective: but we still feel there is more we could have brought home from the last few races.
“The track layout in Suzuka is quite different from Sochi and Singapore, so hopefully it will suit the C38 better and put us back towards the front of the midfield.
“Both trackside and at HQ, we need to keep working hard to extract the most out of our car: marginal gains is all there is to go from P12 to P7 in a race at this stage in the season.”
Raikkonen echoed Vasseur’s thoughts, stressing that he and the team needs to rediscover the groove that it enjoyed prior to the last couple of rounds.
“The last four races have been disappointing for me and the team, but we shouldn’t forget we looked strong in Belgium and Italy despite the issues that prevented me from scoring,” he said.
“The key is to recover the form we had before and immediately after the break: the gap from our rivals in the midfield is not big and hopefully a circuit like Suzuka can help us get the most out of our car.”