A source in the Alpine team has revealed that while Fernando Alonso is showing the qualities that made him a two-time World Champion, the new car is not performing as it should.
Since Kimi Raikkonen’s retirement, Alonso has taken up the mantle of oldest driver on the Formula 1 grid but his competitive edge has never left him.
Creator of ‘El Plan’, a viral internet meme hinting at Alpine and Alonso’s plan for domination, the Spaniard still believes he can challenge for World titles provided he has the car to do so.
With the 2022 regulations came a potential reshuffling of the pack and no team at this stage can claim they are the out-and-out favourites for the title this year.
When Alonso rejoined the sport after a brief hiatus, he no doubt had been sold on a plan from Alpine to nail the 2022 car and challenge for wins and podiums.
However, after the first testing event in Barcelona, it appears ‘El Plan’ is not quite going to plan.
“Fernando is very good. The car… not so much,” a source within the Alpine garage reportedly told Spanish outlet Mundo Deportivo.
The source is said to have shook his head as he delivered the assessment, saying “there are things missing… things are missing.”
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It appears it is a thought shared by the Spaniard himself who said the team had lost performance with the new fuel.
“We have made a good step forward in terms of power with our new engine. I hope we will be competitive at the level of the others,” Alonso said to reporters in a press conference.
“But we have lost performance with the new fuel, so we will also have to take this factor into account when talking about engine performance.”
On the same day, he gave an interview to Spanish radio station RTVE admitting he was unsure what to think of Alpine’s performance at the moment.
“I don’t know if I’m satisfied yet with the performance of the car or not, because we are in the first days, but I’m happy in general with how things are going, to be in a new preseason, with the illusion of starting a new year, and hopefully the pandemic will also give us a break,” he said.
Only two teams completed fewer laps than Alpine during testing and Alonso was in the seat when a “minor sealing issue” in the hydraulics brought a premature end to their running on Friday.
However, the 40-year-old believes they have made a step forward.
“Well, obviously, we believe that we have a step forward on the engine, on power, but also on everything, you know?” he said.
“I think the engine has been updated in many different areas, so, let’s see if we can be a little bit competitive on that side.
“And [we must] keep… the reliability that we had last year; it was one of the strongest points of the car, finishing all the races and having no issues at all. So yes, you need to combine those two things: the performance and finishing the races.”
El Plan goes awry in Barcelona
Fernando Alonso's third day of test stopped when his car went up in smoke.