Alpine executive director Marcin Budkowski has explained the “technical choice” which led to the “spectacularly bulky” airbox design on its 2021 Formula 1 car.

The French manufacturer’s new-look A521 challenger not only turned heads when it made its public on track debut on the opening day of pre-season testing in Bahrain thanks to its striking revised livery, but also because of a fascinating design approach to its airbox and bodywork. 

Along with two-time world champion Fernando Alonso’s return to F1 with the Enstone-based squad, the team’s very wide and bulbous air box has caused a stir and become a talking point in the Bahrain paddock.

Budkowski, who joked that people were “body shaming” Alpine’s new car, explained the thought-process behind the different direction taken by the team, revealing it has found a greater gain by cutting back the side pods and moving the cooling structure higher up on the A521.

“It’s a technical choice,” Budkowski said on the second day of running on Saturday. “We found that slimming the sidepods was a positive direction, which is nothing new really.

“So we have repackaged and relocated some of the bulky things in the car and put them behind the air inlet. So yes, it gives a fairly spectacularly bulky shape in the car, but we found it works for us.

“There are centre-of-gravity compromises but usually the aero performance wins over weight and centre of gravity.”

Alpine has enjoyed a strong start to pre-season testing so far, with Esteban Ocon logging 129 laps on the opening day.

Alonso is also heading towards the triple figure mark with 90 minutes of running still to go on day two, while the Spaniard has also demonstrated some encouraging pace in his first outing with Alpine this year.

 

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