until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Formula 1

Alpine eyes adding rivals’ best designs to its ‘load of upgrades’

by Scott Mitchell-Malm
5 min read

Aramco Web Black Text V2

Alpine has “a load of upgrades” planned for the second pre-season Formula 1 test and opening round in Bahrain and will “try and pick the best pieces” off other cars for future development.

The Renault works team launched its new car, the A522, on Monday evening ahead of the first three days of testing at Barcelona this week.

Feb 21 : Why Alpine's new F1 car is only aiming for fifth

Every new design is expected to evolve quickly at the start of the season as teams work out areas to improve in the all-new technical regulations and get a clear view of rival designs.

While there has been significant variety in key aerodynamic areas so far, such as the front wing, nose and sidepods, the consensus is that teams will start to converge once it becomes clear which solutions are superior or inferior.

2022 Bwt Alpine F1 Team Launch A522 Pink Single Seater (2)

Alpine chief technical officer Pat Fry said: “The first two tests and the early races there’s going to be a massive step in learning.

“We’ve obviously had our own ideas of what this set of rules means. We’re going to see nine other options of what that is. We’ll try and pick the best pieces out of everything.

“We’re learning all the time in our own windtunnel. We get the luxury of looking at the results of nine other windtunnels. So we can actually understand and just make a better car.

“There’s going to be a huge increase in performance. And we’ve already got a load of upgrades coming through for the second test and the first race.

“So this development battle is under way, but it will really step up once we start analysing closely what all the other cars’ solutions are.”

Fry has been made chief technical officer as part of a gradual but significant overhaul of Alpine’s senior leadership structure in the last couple of months.

In his place, Matt Harman has been promoted to technical director, while on the team management side Otmar Szafnauer has joined as team principal while Marcin Budkowski, who held that role in all but name, departed over the winter.

Alpine 2022 F1 car

This shake-up is geared towards ending the team’s midfield stagnation as, despite winning a race in the first year of its Alpine iteration in 2021, the new rules mark a big opportunity to finally make a step forward.

That said, Alpine is not targeting being a regular contender for victories for at least a couple of seasons, and its expectations for 2022 are quite modest – with CEO Laurent Rossi hoping to finish fifth in the constructors’ championship “at least”.

“I see a very motivated team in Enstone and Viry,” Rossi said of the Alpine’s race team and engine facilities.

“I see people very confident. I can tell you last year they didn’t have the same smile on their face because we knew we were severely impacted by the change of regulation from 2020 to 2021, we knew we didn’t pick up all of the pieces at once.

“This time around, we have very ambitious development targets in Viry and Enstone. They have been achieved so it’s good, it puts us in an area where we feel like this is already a good start.

“We already have innovation, other parts and pieces coming for the season.”

Alpine drivers Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon are excited about the opportunity the new rules provide after often finding themselves sniping for lower points finishes in 2021 – even though Ocon took a shock win in Hungary and Alonso was on the podium in Qatar.

However, both said they were not reading too much into the different car designs shown during launch season because it is impossible to know what will work best until they run on track.

Oscar Piastri Esteban Ocon Fernando Alonso Alpine F1

“We’ve seen different concepts but everyone trying to achieve the same things, trying to get as much load from this low sidepod section,” said Ocon.

“Many cars look good, I think the Ferrari, the Mercedes, they look good, there’s an interesting concept from Williams as well in there.

“But until we put the car down and we see where everyone performs, we can’t tell who’s going to be the quickest.

“For now, they all look very detailed. Some looked more detailed than others, but hopefully ours is going to be the one that performs well.”

Alonso joked that he had not even bothered to examine what rival teams have shown.

“No, that’s for you guys and for social media,” he laughed.

“It’s like everyone is an expert, you know, on fins, and you see a detail on the car and are just like ‘oh, a big fin!’.

“And I think no-one has any idea of how the whole package works because the flow starts on the front wing and then it works differently for each of the cars, so it’s not that you can see something in one car and immediately copy on your car. Because maybe the flow is not going through that particular section of the car.

“I think it’s a very difficult exercise to do. So, yeah, I don’t know – I like the cars, they look they have, as a general concept I think they looked good, but not [looking] in the details of performance.”

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Email
  • More Networks