Fernando Alonso talks about the performance of Alpine in F1 2022 so far coming in with no clear indication plus how the engine stacks up.
Over the course of the two pre-season tests, the pace of Alpine couldn’t be determined when compared to the other cars. But the races in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia did so, with the French outfit right in the middle of the pack losing no ground from last year.
While the likes of McLaren and Aston Martin have dropped back with Alfa Romeo and Haas gaining ground, interestingly Alpine has stood its ground despite the new engine and a brand new car. It is some relief in a sense that they didn’t drop behind.
Even though it is early days, the team is still a bit behind to the likes of Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari, which is why Alonso is not overly happy but is content to have not lost ground like others. “More or less happy, I have to say,” he said about the performance.
“We came to Bahrain with not a clear idea on where we were exactly in terms of performance, and we went into Q3 nearly with both cars and then double points for the team. We followed it up with an almost double points in Saudi Arabia too.
“So we have to be happy and proud in a way after the difficult winter for us, especially in Barcelona we were struggling a little bit but then in Bahrain we were more happy and the race was good. We were 1.2 seconds from pole position in Bahrain, so we tried to understand where are the strengths of the car and the weaknesses and try to attack those as soon as possible on the next few races and some developments that are coming.
“But yeah, I think there’s still some work to do for sure in the car. Everyone will improve massively in the next two or three months and we know that we need to make an extra step if we want to compete for higher things. But let’s say the first couple of races it’s going to be interesting to see where and how fast we are.
“I think Jeddah was the first test for us in a completely different circuit than Bahrain, now we have Australia, after that Imola and probably by that [time], I think we should know where we are,” summed up Alonso. In terms of the power unit, the Spaniard feels that they have made a step up – although the reliability is still a question mark.
Already in Saudi Arabia, Alonso was forced to retire due to a suspected power unit problem. “For us, definitely a step on our side as well, not only on power, pure power, also the concept of the engine is completely different, and it was a lot of work on this project for already one year and a half or something,” said Alonso.
“So, I think they did a very good job in Paris and we happy with our power unit now, progress everyone… we are very similar. I don’t think that we have a huge disadvantage or huge advantage. And that was maybe not the case last year so we’re happy with this step forward,” summed up Alonso.
The results this year will be decisive for the Spaniard whether he continues in F1 or not, especially with Esteban Ocon doing well so far and Oscar Piastri waiting in the wings. For now, Alonso is happy with the new regulations for which he returned to the sport.
“I’m happy, I’m happy to be here,” said Alonso. “I came to the sport here for these regulations and the hope that it gives to everyone to have a closer competition between teams and the budget cap and try to reduce the differences between the teams.”
Here’s Fernando Alonso, Esteban Ocon on Saudi Arabia duel