The World F1 Championship celebrated its inaugural race last week with the Bahrain GP but Alpine has already promised the first upgrade package for its car. Not surprisingly, the performance of the A521 fell well below expectations at the Sakhir Circuit.
The first indication that something was not up to scratch came during the qualifying round. Fernando Alonso had to use all of his skill and experience to bring the car up to ninth place, but the shortcomings of the Alpine vehicle were fully evidenced by the sixteenth place obtained by his teammate Esteban Ocon. The worst, however, was yet to come.
On race day, the Frenchman finished out of the points and the Spaniard had to retire after his rear brakes started overheating. It turned out that the cooling duct to the brakes had been blocked by a sandwich wrapper.
Unlucky, yes, but before that happened it was obvious that his car was not able to maintain a competitive rhythm. It was only Alonso’s experience at the wheel that saved his performance… while this lasted.
The French team openly views the current year as a transitional one before the great 2022 Formula One overhaul, but in any case, and faced with this situation the team has reacted without delay.
Marcin Budkowski, Alpine Team’s executive director, speaking to the Race Fans website, has explained in detail how they are planning to overcome their current technical issues:
“There’s an area that’s changed in the regulations which is an area of development at the moment. It’s obviously the side of the floor and the diffuser”.
“We’ve done some work throughout the test and we’ve done some work here in Bahrain and no doubt we will do some more work in the next few races. Everybody else will as well. It’s an area that will change”.
Alpine now has his sights set on the second round of the calendar which is to take place next week at Ímola, and they are working against the clock to be able to bring a more competitive car to the race.
The team has intensified its efforts in order to roll out a series of important upgrades as soon as possible. These will for the most part concentrate on the rear of the vehicle, the area which is to attract most of the changes during the current season:
“We have a pretty decent upgrade package coming for Imola, so we’ll have some more new parts and more performance on the car in Imola”. – Said the man from Warsaw -.
Following those improvements, the specific objective for the Emilia-Romagna GP is to score the first points of the season. Budkowski has also confirmed that that the upgrades will not stop at the Italian commitment, but will keep on coming for the subsequent races:
“(…) And in general, in the first few races of the season, we’ll have some new bits coming through”.
After finishing fifth in the 2020 Constructors’ Championship behind McLaren (3rd) and Racing Point (current Aston Martin, 4th), the goal of the team from Enstone for the current season is to lead the middle zone of the grid.
“We are still a bit short of two or three tenths to actually be fighting with the people we aimed to fight”. – Conceded Budkowski-.
High temperatures issues
Another key issue that Alpine needs to resolve is its car’s struggles with high temperatures. The Polish boss concluded his intervention by acknowledging this point:
“We have a bit of homework to do on understanding why we are seemingly less competitive in the hot sessions than the evening sessions, which I don’t think will be a problem at Imola or Portugal but could become a thing in the summer months”.
Images: Alpine F1 Team.