Alpine’s rise to the top of Formula 1 drags on. 2022 is only marginally better. Two more drivers jump ship. Is the project on a crash course?
Formula 1 is on summer break for the 2022 season. It’s a great excuse to take an in-depth look at the first half of the season for individual teams. Find out sports trends and place your bets at Bet22. Today: Alpine switches from one long-term plan to the next, makes hardly any progress, and loses drivers in rows.
Goal vs. reality: Alpine rowed back in the previous year. Whereas the team had once set itself the goal of competing for victories from 2021 onwards when it returned to Formula 1 (as Renault) in 2016, it had to revise its plans in its sixth year. After Cyril Abiteboul, Marcin Budkowski also left in the winter after a year as quasi-team boss. The experienced Otmar Szafnauer is now to lead the team, which has been restructured in recent years under the new brand manager Laurent Rossi, out of stagnation.
Therefore, a new “100-race plan” was issued in the winter to become a regular contender for victory. There are now still 87 races left to go. So in that sense, the team is on target when it’s currently battling with McLaren for the fourth-place title. In real terms, however, it is back in roughly the same position it has been in for years. At the top of the chasing pack. It had already reached this place in 2018. The winners are a second further away.
Development: Compared to last year, the new Alpine A522 is a step forward, especially in terms of the overall package. It has a wide working window, is easier to tune, and is more predictable in Q3 and the points. The team understands the car well and finds it relatively easy to extract performance close to the optimum every weekend. But that was the expectation – because Alpine had actually even stopped developing the chassis at that time after 2018 once to prepare for the 2022 rule revolution (then planned for 2021). The A522 is now the team’s most complete car since the comeback, with only one race in which both Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso came away empty-handed.
Is this progress now sufficient? It’s definitely a good signal for the team. Building a package that always responds to setups and updates as expected is a testament to much-needed progress in the previously often doubted and now restructured engineering department.