Alpine ‘managing’ exhaust pool to avoid penalties

Michelle Foster
Alpine driver Fernando Alonso salutes Esteban Ocon. Hungary August 2021.

Suffering a spate of exhaust issues early in the campaign, Alpine are still confident they can see out the season without incurring penalties.

As of this season, all of the Formula 1 teams are permitted to use eight exhausts per car before the penalties begin to rack up.

That is a cause for concern at Alpine as Esteban Ocon is already on his seventh while Fernando Alonso has used five.

While Alonso up to the end of Portugal had taken four exhausts in three races, his team-mate Ocon has had the most issues.

He took his eighth and final penalty-free exhaust in Hungary, a race he went on to win.

But while Alpine’s executive director Marcin Budkowski says it has left the team exposed to penalties, he believes they can manage the situation.

“We had an issue at the beginning of the year which meant we limited the mileage of our exhausts to avoid failure during the race,” he said to

“And so we have introduced a few exhausts at the beginning of the year to contain the risk. We believe we solved this issue now with a spec of exhaust we introduced during the season.

“What we are doing now is really managing the pool. We have a number of exhausts per car for the season, we just need to manage it.

“Effectively you manage them between practice sessions, qualifying, race. By having a bit more resources in your pool you can use them in the most efficient way for the rest of the season.

“So touch wood, we don’t expect to take penalties this season. But obviously, as we’ve used a few more than we would have liked to at the beginning of the season, then we are exposed.”

Alpine are up to P5 in the Constructors’ Championship after Ocon’s Hungarian win.

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The exhausts are not Alpine’s only problem.

Budkowski admits the team is on the back foot, or as he puts it in a “slightly non-ideal situation”, as they are still running a 2019 engine having delayed designing a new one after the pandemic hit.

Asked to rank his engine compared to Alpine’s rivals, he said: “I’m not gonna answer this one directly.

“We have a competitive analysis. And we have a fairly good idea of where we stack in terms of power but also in terms of energy management, weight and packaging and things like this.

“But it’s a 2019 engine we are using. As a result, some of our competitors made gains that we haven’t.

“So we are in a slightly non-ideal situation where we had to delay our new power unit, which has, beyond improvements to propulsive power and energy management, the kind of usual things that make quicker on a straight line has also a new architecture and changes that are designed to address some of our weaknesses compared to our competitors.

“But we didn’t have the resources to relaunch the development programme on this year’s engine and continue to work on the 2022 engines. So we’ve decided to put all our efforts on 2022. So it’s a strategic decision.

“I believe it’s the right one but it’s painful, because as a result this year we lost ground compared to our competitors.”