Simulation accuracy set to make or break Alpine’s engine

Mark Scott
A view of the Alpine A522 from the rear. February 2022.

A rear-on view of the Alpine A522 in its blue and pink colours.

Alpine are placing a lot of faith in their simulation data for the new RE22 engine which will power their A522 this season.

It is fair to say that Renault have been lagging behind the other Formula 1 engine manufacturers in Mercedes, Ferrari and Honda (now Red Bull PowerTrains) and, with being a works team and an engine freeze on the way, there is extra pressure on Alpine to have the power unit and chassis working in perfect harmony with each other.

While the 2021 season brought big moments of joy for Alpine with Esteban Ocon’s marvellous win in Hungary and Fernando Alonso’s long-awaited return to the podium in Qatar, they still found themselves firmly in the midfield pack by finishing fifth in the Constructors’ Championship.

At least fifth is the aim again in 2022, but it appears even that target is dependent on the engine simulations – something which Alpine have had to rely a lot on – having a direct correlation of what they see on track.

“In terms of the RE22 and the design for its entire life, it’s been an interesting programme,” Alpine’s technical director, Matt Harman, said at the A522 launch, as quoted by The Race.

“We don’t fundamentally know everything about how we are going to operate it so we’ve had to make some simulations.

“And we’ve taken some conclusions from that to enable us not only to design the power unit but also design the transmission that is linked to it and how that transmission will need to change based on the aerodynamic developments that we will continue to have throughout even though the power unit may be homologated and frozen.”

Being a works outfit that is split across two different headquarters in England and France brings its own logistical challenges, but better integration between the two camps has been a clear focus for the team.

Harman added: “In terms of the Viry and Enstone integration we are a works team and we need to make 100% use of that benefit and we have done.

“So from the very start of our programme we worked closely together to actually start off with the people, start off how we integrate the people first, how we integrate the functions and from that comes very good engineering conversations and from that comes excellent engineering solutions.

“It’s been primarily focused on the organisations and making sure that although we are separate in terms of geography, in terms of our engineering discussions we are together and we are together on every decision.

“I think that’s an important part of being a works team in modern Formula 1.”

 

Going back to the power unit, Harman revealed it was that component which provided the foundation in the overall creation of the A522, allowing Alpine to “express themselves” freely when it came to the aerodynamic development of the car.

“At the very beginning of these regulations, we actually started with the power unit mainly because it does set some of the key areas of the car aerodynamically,” said Harman.

“We did a full review of this area of the car and we decided to change the architecture of that power unit extensively in all areas including the internal combustion engine, the ERS, the turbo and its positioning in the car and that has given us some real gains in terms of our ability to express ourselves aerodynamically and achieve that ultimate lap time of the car.”

 

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