And then they were eleven. The final event before the summer break, the eleventh race in the season so far, emerges like a mirage from the heat of Central Europe: the team heads to Budapest ready to face soaring temperatures as a heat wave pushes the meters to more than 40C.
At the height of the season, with just a final race weekend before the two-week shutdown that will see the whole paddock relocate to more amenable holiday locations, there is still a job to be done. On a track like the Hungaroring, a twisty, unforgiving old-school beast that rewards rhythm above all, there is an opportunity to show what we can do, targeting that top ten finish that has eluded us in the last few rounds.
Nestled in the hills outside Budapest, squeezed between a motorway and a water park, this circuit is a throwback to a different time: Monaco without the walls, they said; a test of mental and physical strength for the drivers, who have no real place to rest as they churn lap after lap of this undulating layout - all while tackling the boiling temperatures in the cockpit.
The battle on track will be just as fierce as ever: minute margins rewarding every daring bet, punishing every mistake. To do well, drivers and cars will need to be at their joint best. Once the lights go, the competition will be sizzling - just as the spectators, in what promises to be an incredibly well-attended event.
In this scenario, Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN will be going the extra mile to reward the fans, many from nearby Poland, filling the grandstands throughout the weekend. The team will launch a dedicated activity Booth in which supporters will be able to see one of our cars up close, take part in special contests and shop (and win!) exclusive merchandise.
Located in the popular Silver Fan Zone and open all day between Friday and Sunday, the Team Booth will heavily feature fan-favourite, Robert Kubica, with the Pole joining fans for exclusive Zoom meet & greet sessions. A range of team equipment, memorabilia and other items will be on display, as well as life-sized cut-outs of Robert for fans to pose with, with the best selection of team merchandise in the whole circuit also on offer.
A hot, really hot weekend, then - both on and off the track. With the Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN Team Booth, turns out the water park across the road is not the biggest temptation for those in attendance after all…
Frederic Vasseur, Team Principal of Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN: "We approach the final race before the break with unchanged objectives - two cars in Q2 and points on Sunday. I will never tire of saying it: we've been knocking at the doors of the top ten and we just need things to align for us to make that final step. We spent most of the last race in points-paying positions and we were in P10 until a few laps to the end in Silverstone, which is a track that doesn't really suit our car, so hopefully we will be able to extract even more of our potential in a venue which is dramatically different from Britain. It would be an ideal way to head into the break and carry the momentum into the second part of the season."
Kimi Raikkonen: "The last race in Silverstone saw us go very close to the points: I was tenth when I had my coming together with Perez and I feel we could have fought for that point until the end of the race. We came away with nothing but we can hope to carry that form into Hungary, a track on which we can do well. As always, we expect both Saturday and Sunday to be close but if we do our job, we can come away with a good result."
Antonio Giovinazzi: "Finishing the first half of the season with a good result would be a great way to go into the summer break and would be such a confidence boost for everyone back at the factory. Hungary is a completely different track from Silverstone and hopefully we can do well here. We know our pace is good enough to keep ahead of many of our rivals, but we need to deliver when it matters: if we do that, we can have a good weekend."