Alpine CEO Laurent Rossi has described his team’s Formula 1 quest to return to competitiveness as a “100-race project”. 

The Enstone-based outfit returned to winning ways this year thanks to Esteban Ocon triumph at the Hungarian Grand Prix, but the Frenchman’s maiden victory came during one of the most extraordinary F1 races in recent history. 

In more normal circumstances, Alpine has been nowhere near the podium on pure performance and has instead been consigned to scrapping for the lower-reaches of the points on merit most weekends. 

For a team currently fighting to hold onto fifth place in the constructors’ championship - more than 100 points down on Ferrari and 19 clear of AlphaTauri - Rossi knows it will take much longer for Alpine to realise its ultimate ambitions.  

“We have a long-term project, the objective is to reach a level of competitiveness that places us on the podium as many times as possible in 2024,” Rossi told the official F1 website in a recent interview. 

“From today in fifth, you can easily find a roadmap. It’s going to be every year a bit better. It’s a 100-race project, four years, four seasons.”

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A four-to-five year project for Alpine matches a similar goal set by fellow midfield runners Aston Martin and is a fairly safe timeframe to lay out, especially with F1’s rules revolution on the horizon. 

After all, a major overhaul to the technical regulations for 2022 was what initially tempted Fernando Alonso to return to F1’s midfield this year. 

Alonso has frequently cited the new rules for next season as being the main motivation behind his comeback as he eyes adding an elusive third world championship to his list of impressive achievements in motorsport. 

But does Alonso, who turned 40 last month, really have the desire to have to slog it out in the midfield for potentially another three or four seasons before Alpine reaches peak competitiveness? Is that part of his ‘El Plan’? 

“Let’s see, let’s do it step-by-step,” the Spaniard replied when asked if he is prepared to wait 100 races to taste the level of success that lured him back to F1. 

“The first step is next year and with the change of regulations you never know how competitive everyone is going to be next year, because the coin is in the air at the moment with all the big changes on the cars. 

“Hopefully we will put that 100 [target] a little bit lower. We will put all our efforts and all our work into this project and hopefully succeed as soon as possible.”

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So far, at least, Alonso has seen enough progress from Alpine to convince him to extend his stay with the Anglo-French outfit for at least one more campaign. 

Alpine has made some progress this season under its new direction and following a rebrand over the winter. Even if it is not on course to match its points tally from last year, it would be unfair to judge 2021 as anything less than solid. 

2021 has produced one of the most competitive seasons in recent history and featured a midfield scrap that is even more intense than 2020, while McLaren and Ferrari have taken a clear step forward. 

The AlphaTauri has been a faster car than the Alpine at most circuits, but a combination of driver consistency, improved reliability and better teamwork has been its greatest strength. 

That has been reflected in the results, with Alpine currently enjoying a streak of 15 consecutive points finishes - something no other team has managed. Alpine also boasts a handy total of six two-car points finishes across the 16 races so far. 

“I think the team is [getting] better and better every race, and I feel it,” added Alonso. 

“From the beginning of the year, we identified some weaknesses that we had as a team. We knew some strengths as well, we worked in a few different areas and now the team is much stronger. 

“We make less mistakes, we are more prepared on the weekends, even if the package or how competitive we are doesn’t allow us to fight for podiums or victories every Sunday, I think as a team we are quite strong. 

“I think it’s 14 [15 actually, Fernando] consecutive races that we score points as a team. We are the only ones doing that, so that proves that the team in the background is working quite strongly.”  

The biggest test of Alonso’s patience will come next season, but for the time being at least, he seems content with the early signs that are pointing in the right direction.

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