Mugello is a name that evokes memories: motorcycle races, long days of testing, first days - or only days - in the car for hopeful youngsters. This circuit is one we all, in one way or another, know, it's part of our sport's collective psyche. But none of those memories is of Formula One cars racing each other: and it may well be, as the Tuscan circuit has never been put to that use until this week, when it will host its first Grand Prix.
Set in the hills just north of Florence - a lovely part of the world, if you ask us - Mugello Circuit features many medium- and high-speed corners that will provide a challenge to the drivers. A long home straight and elevation changes add to the layout, with some corners, like the two Arrabbiata blind right handers, a particular highlight.
For the team, Mugello is another important race - both on and off the track. The second of three races in Italy this season, it will be a matter of pride to fly the colours of Alfa Romeo on the marque's home turf; it will be a second home race in a row for Antonio, who will once again sport his special edition helmet in tribute to his country. Finally, with fans finally returning, albeit in limited numbers, to a Grand Prix, we will aim to put up a great show for them while making our name proud.
Mugello is, of course, where in late 2000 a young-faced Kimi Raikkonen made his debut on a Formula One car, testing for Sauber. Just 20 and with only 23 races in any single seater under his belt, the Finn represented somewhat of an unusual choice when being evaluated for a race seat, but he did enough to impress - way enough to impress, not just the team but also Michael Schumacher, who was observing the test - to earn a place on the grid with Sauber for the 2001 season.
The rest, as they say, is history...
Frederic Vasseur, Team Principal: "We are coming to the end of the third triple-header of the season, but we can't let fatigue get in the way of our work. We have been making some progress, although the standings don't show it yet, and we have to keep pushing like hell to close the gap with the cars ahead and fight for the top ten consistently. We have seen last weekend that races can get turned upside down very quickly and we need to be ready to make the most of every opportunity. In Monza, circumstances went against us but next time a twist could work better for us and we'll need to be sharp to make it count. Racing week after week doesn't leave much time to catch up but everyone, both at the track and back home in Switzerland, is doing their best to improve."
Kimi Raikkonen: "The Mugello circuit is where I had my first ever test with Sauber, back in 2000, but I seriously doubt those days twenty years ago are going to give me that much of a competitive advantage. It's going to be nice to be back on that track with the same team I was there with back in the day, but I don't think we will have a lot of time to indulge in reminiscing about the past. We're there to race and hopefully we can have a good weekend. The track is new to everybody and that could make things interesting, at least because nobody has any data about it and the drivers will need to get to grips with the circuit. We have been making some steps forward, both in qualifying and in the race but we haven't been able to bring home some points yet, so that has to remain our objective for the weekend."
Antonio Giovinazzi: "My second home race of the season and another chance to make progress. I have never raced at Mugello in my career, although I did some testing there in 2018 before racing in Le Mans, but I remember it as a very fun track to drive. It'll also be the first race of the season where we have some fans, although not many, so I am keen to race and give them a good show. Last weekend we had some positives and some negatives: we seemed to be a bit more on the pace and we were able to be in some fights, especially at the start, but then the penalty effectively put an end to my race. We can build on the steps forward we have made and aim to make up some more ground this weekend."