Alpine are suspicious of copycat car designs

Maria Bright
Alpine's Fernando Alonso enters the pits. Bahrain, March 2022.

Fernando Alonso drives towards his pit box at the Alpine garage. Bahrain, March 2022.

This year brings a truck load of new regulations that the teams need to obey – basically changing the whole car.

But Otmar Szafnauer- team principal of Alpine – seems to think that teams have been flexing the rules and regulations a bit too much.

The FIA has strict rules in place that do not allow teams to work in collaboration with each other, in order to try and achieve a level playing field.

Szafnauer himself will know all about the issue of copycat techniques being used in Formula 1.

He was the team principal of the team formerly known as Racing Point, who unveiled the RP20 for the 2020 campaign and earned the almost immediate nickname of the ‘Pink Mercedes’, due to its uncanny resemblance to the car which their engine supplier Mercedes used to win the 2019 World Championship – the W10.

That car was good enough to see Racing Point clinch P4 in the Constructors’ Championship, but that didn’t come without rivals putting the team under some intense scrutiny.

Now it appears Szafnauer is finding out what Formula 1 life is like with the shoe on the other foot, noticing that some teams who are already closely connected to each other have some very similar design philosophies at the start of the sport’s new chapter.

Talking to The Race, he said: “I’ve seen solutions on a couple of cars, that you think how the hell did two independent teams come up with that?

“And I don’t know how to solve it. But I think an even playing field within Formula 1 is something that’s important.

“But we have to work with the FIA to solve that. Because like I said, you guys too can have a look out there and think, how do these two teams independently come up with that solution?

“Especially when there’s rule changes. Nobody knows what the solutions are going to be until you see them. So how did you come up with them?”

It’s not just Otmar who has suspicions, as McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl has also said: “It’s mainly the performance enhancement or increase the A teams are having from these co-operations, which is obviously an even bigger concern for us.

“That’s why this problem is really a serious one.”


While neither Szafnauer, nor Seidl, have revealed specific team names that are creating the suspicion, Haas’ VF-22 is already starting to earn the nickname ‘the white Ferrari’ given their sudden leap up the early leaderboards in Bahrain.