After a promising end to the 2020 campaign which saw the rebranded French squad claim three podium finishes across the final seven races, Alpine had hoped to move a step closer to the front of the midfield this year.

But a tough start to the season has seen it pick up just three points from the opening two races in Bahrain and Imola, with Alpine appearing to have lost competitiveness and slipped further back into the pack.

According to Alpine’s executive director Marcin Budkowski, the team was well aware that it was in for a difficult start after pre-season testing confirmed its biggest fears.

“Unfortunately it’s not completely a surprise because we had a few issues over the winter that we knew would affect our performance and of course we went to the Bahrain test and our fears were true,” said Budkowski.

“So we knew we were on the back foot going into testing and then going into the first races. We are working hard on trying to improve the car.”

When asked to elaborate on the exact nature of the problems the team had encountered, Budkowski revealed it was a combination of adapting to new rules for 2021 as well as issues “in the wind tunnel”.

“That was two-fold,” he explained. “We had issues related to the actual change of regulations and the actual various flow features that it kind of induced on the car.

"And we had issues with hardware, the tunnel and the testing as well. The consequence is not that we lost more performance than others, or lost differently, it’s just that we lost development time which is a valuable currency in Formula 1, because everybody has the same amount of testing they can do. It’s limited by regulations.

“So, when you are trying to stabilise your aerodynamic flow features, or you’re trying to get your tunnel to give you the right numbers, the others during this time continue developing the car and put performance in it.

“So that’s effectively what happened. We lost a few weeks of development and weeks of development just transformed into tenths of seconds.”

Budkowski said the team believes it has now addressed the problem and is hopeful it won’t resurface to impact the development of Alpine’s 2022 F1 car.

“The aerodynamic features; is this related to next year? Well, next year is a completely different ball game, it’s a completely different car, different set of regulations.

“In terms of improvement to our hardware and our infrastructure, it’s continuous improvement. We’ve solved our issues so we continue to invest and improve our windtunnel.

“Fingers crossed, we don’t get issues again next year but certainly it’s up to us to improve our understanding and our development capabilities.”

 

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