Alfa Romeo has opted to spend its permitted development tokens on re-designing the front-end of its 2021 Formula 1 car, the C41, including a slimmer nose.

The Swiss outfit presented its latest F1 challenger to the world on Monday morning at a launch event in Poland. Alfa Romeo’s drivers Kimi Raikkonen, Antonio Giovinazzi, and reserve driver Robert Kubica were all on hand to unveil the upgraded C41, which sports a fresh livery for the upcoming campaign.

With restrictions in place on car development between last season and this one resulting in a significant carryover of parts as part of cost-saving measures implemented in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, Alfa Romeo has decided to use its two tokens to work on the front-end of the C41.

Explaining the rationale behind the changes, Alfa Romeo technical director Jan Monchaux said: “The C41 shares a lot of common parts with the C39, simply because of the regulations that were voted in as a result of the pandemic.

“Development of some parts had to be frozen - for example, we had to carry over the chassis, the gearbox and many other elements like the cooling system. The regulations allow to invest two so-called development tokens to carry out changes and we chose to use them on the nosecone.

“It is a very unusual situation in Formula 1 not to be able to build an entire new car for the new season, but it makes sense in these circumstances and with the objective of keeping costs under control.”

The C41 will make its on-track debut on Friday in Barcelona as the team uses up one of its two permitted filming days ahead of a shortened pre-season test in Bahrain between 12-14 March.

This year’s pre-season testing has been cut back to just three days of running - the equivalent of 1.5 days for each driver - in a bid to save costs due to the quantity of carryover from 2020. As a result, Monchaux expects the on-track action to be busier than ever before.

"Testing in Bahrain will be hectic,” Monchaux explained. “I expect every team to put in as much mileage as possible in an attempt to tick off all the boxes on their plans.

“One of the key elements of testing will be the new tyres, which we were able to test in a couple of occasions last year, so there will be a lot of work to be done in this field.

“Of course, we have a much-reduced window, just three days, this year, so I expect the action on track to be much more than in previous years.”

Alfa Romeo’s decision to retain the same driver line-up for the third consecutive season means the team is able to start the year on the front foot as it already knows its drivers’ respective preferences.

“A crucial element is that, from the very start, you know with certainty what your drivers like and what they don’t,” Monchaux added.

"The 2021 car is a very close development of last year’s and, knowing what Kimi and Antonio want, we were able to focus on mitigating the aspects they did not like.

“Had we had a completely new driver, perhaps with a completely new driving style, that would have presented us with an additional challenge – especially in a season with extremely limited testing time.

“The stability on the drivers’ front definitely helps our engineers focus on giving them the tools to be confident at the wheel and extract the most from the car.”

After finishing eighth in the constructors’ championship for three years running, Alfa Romeo hopes its C41 car will help it move further up the grid in 2021.

 

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