Kimi Raikkonen admits that Alfa Romeo will need to wait until pre-season testing and the first race of 2021 in Bahrain to evaluate whether the Swiss outfit has made a step forward or not this season.
Alfa Romeo Racing unveiled its 2021 car in Warsaw on Monday, a design based on last season's disappointing C39 as mandated by this year's regulations.
But an overhaul of the car's front end, including a radical new nosecone, and a series of other aero changes give hope that Alfa's new C41 will prove more efficient and competitive than its predecessor.
"Obviously first of all it’s nice to see the new car," said Raikkonen during the team's 2021 presentation.
"We are in an area of unknown, there’s some rule changes and how’s that going to impact everybody and where we are going to be.
"Hopefully we are better off than we were last year and we’ll get some idea in testing in a couple week’s time and in one month’s time in the first race we’ll really know where we are but we’ll do our best wherever we end up to be."
With just three days of testing available to teams next month in Bahrain, reliability will be key to allow everyone to fully assess their new designs.
"We will find out what the main priorities are soon enough," said the F1 veteran who heads into his 19th season of Grand Prix racing.
"Of course, the team always has many things they want to try and the drivers may prefer to do one thing, like trying different set-ups, so you need to find a compromise so that you get the most out of these days.
"This year, with only one and a half days per driver, there cannot be any reliability issues – you can’t afford to lose half a day or a full day as you will be left with not much to work with.
"It’ll be important to pick and choose the right things to tests, trying to spread it over the three days: I am hoping for good mileage and to finish the week feeling positive."
For Raikkonen, Alfa Romeo's target this season is clear: to improve its performance relative to 2020.
"Our main objective is hopefully having better results as a team this year," he aded. "Antonio [Giovinazzi] and I are working to move the team forward – let’s see how this season goes."