After much anticipation, Alpine have revealed their first Formula 1 challenger, the A521…
While the Renault name bowed out of Formula 1 as a manufacturer come the end of the 2020 campaign, the company actually has a renewed focus on the series for 2021.
Believing Alpine to be a better fit for Formula 1, new Groupe Renault CEO Luca de Meo has brought the performance division to Formula 1, and hopes by the end of next year to have a race-winning outfit in Alpine.
First though the A521 has to set the standards high, and at least on the eyes, it has done just that.
Esteban Ocon very much used 2020 as a year to grow into his place with the team. A year out of the sport left the Frenchman playing catch-up with former team-mate Daniel Ricciardo for the first-half of 2020, but he silenced the critics once the campaign reached its latter stages.
A first podium finish of his career, secured by P2 at the Sakhir Grand Prix, was proof of Ocon’s growth.
But, while Ricciardo has now moved on to McLaren, in his place arrives another huge challenge for Ocon if he is to secure a new deal with Alpine, that being two-time World Champion Fernando Alonso.
The Spaniard won both of his titles in the blue and yellow of Renault in 2005 and 2006, a colour scheme he hoped would be referenced in the Alpine A521 as he makes his return to Formula 1 after a two-season hiatus from the series.
Now that we have seen the A521, our first sighting of how it performs on the track will arrive at the Bahrain International Circuit when all the teams put their 2021 challengers through their initial paces during pre-season testing from March 12-14.
After that the teams remain in Bahrain for the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix on March 28.
After Renault made the podium three times last season, there is every chance that Alpine will have their first taste of sparkling wine as it is now on the podium, even if Alonso does believe it would require a Mercedes “disaster”.