Laurent Rossi, Davide Brivio and Marcin Budkowski speak up on Renault engine and the freeze as they add on goals for Alpine in F1 2021 and beyond.
With Ferrari and Honda having substantial change to its power unit for 2021 F1 season and Mercedes fine tuning its reliability issues, Renault has chosen to do limited work on its engine too. They are to divide their work between this year and 2022.
On the engine side, Budkowski explained that they have limited changes, especially as their power unit was already quite powerful in 2021. “It is what we chose to do in terms of balancing our resources, and obviously in tackling the COVID situation,” he told media including FormulaRapida.net post Alpine A521 launch.
“We had a strong power unit last year, and we have made some changes to it. It is an evolution compared to last year, we have some more power, we have some more performance coming from the engine. It’s not a new one, it’s going to give us reliability hopefully, it is going to give us a better starting point if you want going into the season.
“It’s a long season, so only a few engines can be used, three elements of the engine and two for some of them. So it gives a solid base if you want while we’re focusing our efforts on really making a big step for 2022,” summed up Budkowski, as he stressed on how much of thought went behind balancing the 2021 and 2022 work, even in car building terms.
“We are used to juggle with several car programmes, usually two car programmes,” said Budkowski. “The difference this year is the 2022 changes are nothing less of a revolution, I mean, I’m going to celebrate my 20 years in a sport in April, and I’ve never seen such a big upheaval of regulation. So it’s a completely new ballgame and therefore, it puts even more emphasis on starting early and getting the the initial concept right.
“So this year, it makes it even more difficult if you want because we want to develop this car, we want to go to the championship and fight for good positions and fight for good championship position. At the same time, transitioning early is important. For us as I said, the cost cap is a very small impact at the moment so actually that didn’t come and play, but it will come in play for the next season,” summed up Budkowski.
Staying with the engine topic, new Alpine CEO, Rossi, chipped in about the upcoming freeze and how much it will have an impact for Renault and subsequently Alpine. He feels that the stop will help them to rethink and invest properly, especially for the new regulations from 2025. “While the benefits are the same for everyone,” he started.
“The cost of developing powertrain units are quite high. The cost of operating them as well, changing every year was a big pressure on all of the manufacturers, the PU manufacturers, freezing the definition will allow for a bit of a pause and will actually allow us also to think about the next generation of powertrain, so it takes some time to deliver a new generation.
“And if you want to make some significant improvement in terms of like technical definition of your powertrain you can achieve that by constantly changing from year to another. You need to allow the team to make a breakthrough in the new directions that are going to be indicated by the FIA, we’re working with them into designing the next set of regulations including for the engine, so it is good for everyone that we freeze and limits, then the cost of development of those powertrain, pretty much like we were doing in a way with the cost cap on the chassis. So it’s basically containing the escalation.”
Rossi continued to lay down the short-term and long-term goals for Alpine, who are starting afresh in F1, taking over from the Renault name and heritage. “On the very short term this year, it is obvious that it’s a transition year for everyone in fact,” he said. “Not just for us. It’s not a transition year for a team in particular is just the end of an era of a regulation era, and we already gearing up…so for this year the car’s an improved version of last year, if I may.
“Of course, it’s a bit different but it’s an evolution more than disruption in terms of design both from the engine and the chassis side. So what we hope is to do at least as well as we did last year. That is to say, be a consistent contender for podiums and fight with the best for good to great results during the races. So that is this year, behind the scene out of the truck. We’re building the new car.
“The new engine, the new chassis and our objectives are pretty, pretty aggressive. In fact, Alpine is here to stay it’s the formation of the Renault group that we want to tackle the new era with high ambitions and we decisively designed our processes, our team, in order to first compete for podiums in the midterm, and then in the longer run compete for victories, and not just races, but also the championship the driver and the title of the constructor championship.
“By the end of the era, this is what we want to accomplish. We don’t enter the field with the hope of doing well, we enter the field with the hope of winning,” summed up Rossi, as he continued about the pros and cons of not having a customer F1 team, with McLaren stepping towards Mercedes, leaving Renault with nothing.
“The pros are that we can dedicate all our efforts on designing our own engine and fitting it into our own car, which is a big pro because you’re not distracted by other activities and you can really leverage the fact that you are a manufacturer,” explained Rossi. “The cons could be the fact that you might lose a little bit of the core developments that you could get by having running two or several teams in parallel.
“But frankly, it could be outweighed very quickly should you have any problems. And then I like to add the fact that one of the cons could be that if you are designated to provide the benefit to you to another team if you have not been prepared for that, you will need to increase the workforce consistently so I’m not sure it’s a very desirable effect. So at the end of the day we’re pretty happy supplying ourselves at the moment.”
Summing up with regards to their 2021 F1 goals, Alpine Racing Director, Brivio, hopes for victories but added about being realistic, keeping in mind how 2020 panned out. “Of course, we want to win, everybody wants to win, everybody in the team wants to win,” he said. “We have to be realistic. Last year, we did three podiums, so we started to get close to the top position, and that’s where we have to start from.
“So, first of all, we have to be fighting for the podium, hopefully regularly fighting for the podium, and then step by step, go close to the best possible position. Of course, the final target is to win. Probably, we have a route to get there. We have a road to achieve this target, but that’s what we’re ready to do.
“Of course, this year is a kind of a special year, because everybody is looking at 2022, the new regulations, the new cars which are under development. So, this is the kind of preparation year where we hope in 2022 to improve even more our competitiveness. But the winning is always our target, and I’m sure our drivers want to get there. So yes, that’s the target, because you need to get the target, you need to get a dream, and then you have to work from where you are to achieve it,” summed up Brivio.
Here’s Marcin Budkowski and Davide Brivio on their Alpine F1 role
Here’s Esteban Ocon driving Alpine A521, Marcin Budkowski on changes