The Anglo-French squad has been focusing on the upcoming rules reset for the past two years and has been prioritising the development of F1’s next-generation car as part of its bid to meet its long-term goals of returning to winning ways. 

Alpine is hopeful that F1’s new rules, which include a lower budget cap, will provide the team with a golden opportunity to bridge the gap to its rivals and move closer to the front of the grid. 

“There’s a lot going on for [2022], it’s probably the most important winter for the team since Renault came back, because it’s the first car we’re designing under the cost cap,” Budkowski said in Abu Dhabi

“We’re not at the cap, we’re below, so it’s actually not impacting us, but it’s impacting our competitors. So in relative terms, it gives a better platform and a better position. 

“It’s certainly reset some areas of the team that are working a lot better and I’m excited to see what they are going to do.”

Alpine secured its target of fifth place in the constructors’ championship and also picked up the rebranded Enstone-based outfit’s first victory since Renault’s return as a works squad at the Hungarian Grand Prix, one of two podiums scored by Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso in 2021.

And Budkowski believes Alpine’s 2021 campaign shows it has the fundamental foundations in place to achieve its ambitions. 

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“I think we’ve shown this season that when the opportunities were there we were able to deliver them,” he added. “There’s a few races where we didn’t perform and we didn’t quite understand why. 

“When you look at the season we’ll look at the positives, and there’s a lot of positives to take. But my perfectionist side, where you are always pushing everything, I look at a few races this year where we were not really competitive and we don’t really know why and I’m thinking we need to solve this. 

“There’s a lot of work going on in the background to sort this, as there is a lot of work going on the car and the whole package. It’s looking promising. 

“Given that we’ve had the same engine for the last three years, we froze our chassis and gearbox for strategic reasons to invest our resources elsewhere, we’ve actually done pretty well with the platform we’ve had, both on the track and in developing the areas that we could. So that’s very encouraging for next year. 

“Now I know our numbers, I don’t know other people’s numbers, but yeah, I’m certainly proud of the way the team works. 

“It’s changed a lot over the past few years and those changes are starting to bear fruit. It certainly does at the track and it certainly does at the factory, although it’s not visible yet because our focus for more than two years has been on the [2022] car. 

“But when I see how the factory works and all the interaction there, the people we brought over the last few years, it’s boding well for next year.”

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There has been growing talk about potential management changes behind the scenes, with outgoing Aston Martin team principal Otmar Szafnauer heavily linked to the role at Alpine. Doubts over Budkowski’s own future at the organisation have also surfaced. 

Asked about the rumours in Abu Dhabi, Budkowski said: “The driver silly season is finished, so now it’s team principal silly season, if you want, because you guys need something to write about."

He added: “As part of the top management in the team, my role is to protect the team from rumours. Really what I want people to talk about at the coffee machine is how to make the car go quicker, not who is doing what or what the management structure would look like.”