Alpine is bringing a “pretty decent upgrade package” to the next Formula 1 race at Imola following its point-less start to the 2021 season.
The rebranded Enstone squad failed to score a point at the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix as returning two-time world champion Fernando Alonso retired with overheating brakes, while Esteban Ocon’s race was ruined after he was rammed by Sebastian Vettel.
In a bid to boost its competitiveness, Alpine executive director Marcin Budkowski has confirmed the team will introduce a significant upgrade to its A521 car at the second round of the season in Italy.
“There’s an area that’s changed in the regulations which is an area of development at the moment,” Budkowski explained. “It’s obviously the side of the floor and the diffuser.
“We’ve done some work throughout the test and we’ve done some work here [in Bahrain], and no doubt we will do some more work in the next few races. Everybody else will as well. It’s an area that will change.
“We have a pretty decent upgrade package coming for Imola, so we’ll have some more new parts and more performance on the car in Imola. And in general, in the first few races of the season, we’ll have some new bits coming through.”
Alpine struggled for pace relative to its midfield rivals during hotter temperatures across the Bahrain weekend and Budkowski conceded the French manufacturer is “a bit short of two or three tenths to actually be fighting with the people we aimed to fight.”
“Behind [Red Bull and Mercedes], you have McLaren, who was strong, AlphaTauri was strong, Ferrari was strong - a bit stronger than we were expecting them,” he added.
“Then there’s us and there’s Aston Martin, so that’s the grid if you want. I think that group with McLaren, with Ferrari, with AlphaTauri, with ourselves and Aston Martin, and even Alfa Romeo - they were not far either - that group is very, very tight.
“It’s almost like P5 and P6 to P16, it’s going to be tight, circuit to circuit, conditions to conditions, it’s going to be variable. Our objective is to be front of that group rather than at the rear and at the moment we are somewhere in the middle of it, and we are a short of a few tenths to be at the front.
“It could be different next race and it’s going to be interesting to watch because people are going to develop their cars a little bit but not that long into the season because of the ‘22 regulations coming so it’s going to be interesting. That midfield is going to be very, very competitive all season long.”