Kimi Raikkonnen says Alfa Romeo’s place in the Formula 1 pecking order is a “big mystery” after finding it tricky to explore his new car’s potential in pre-season testing.
The former Sauber entry appears to be in the thick of the midfield battle, although not quite at the front of it as the first week of pre-season had indicated.
Raikkonen said he had yet to find the limit of Alfa’s C38 but believes the team has the same unclear picture of the competitive order as the rest of the field.
“It’s a big mystery,” he said of his team’s position.
“We’re going to give our best and see what we get in the first race and just work from there.
“We’re not 100% where we want to be, but if you asked anybody they’d probably say the same.”
Asked by Autosport if he had been able to explore the car’s full potential, Raikkonen said: “I don’t think we are where we probably want to be, exactly.
“The conditions are always different to race weekends because of the cold weather, and we didn’t really push for the best lap time.
“We tried different tyres and we have things to learn from them also. It was a bit tricky to get a lap time out of the softer tyres.
“We’ll take what we learned here and go through them and see what warm weather, hopefully, in Australia changes.”
Raikkonen has joined Alfa after five years with Ferrari, reuniting the 2007 world champion with many of the personnel he worked with at Sauber back in 2001.
Despite increased investment over the last 18 months the Alfa/Sauber union is still very different to what Raikkonen enjoyed with his previous employer.
However, he believes the team has shown clear signs of “growing up”.
“It’s a smaller team, we have less resource on everything but I think they’ve done a good job,” said Raikkonen.
“It’s a solid package. We have quite a few things to improve but we can go and give a fight, see what we get from there.”
Though Alfa seemed to slip back in week two of testing, Raikkonen said there was “nothing negative” at the end of its pre-season work.
“I don’t know if we are fifth or we are 10th, I think it’s going to be quite close in the middle pack,” he said.
“If you do your job well you’re going to be much further up than if you have an off-day or don’t get everything right.
“We can only do the best we can and see what we get in the first race.”