Alonso: Other teams ‘smarter’ than Alpine out the blocks

Jamie Woodhouse
Fernando Alonso, Alpine, stands arms folded. Spain, February 2022.

Fernando Alonso believes that some teams came into the Barcelona shakedown better prepared than Alpine did.

That three-day session at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya was the first opportunity to see the new generation of F1 cars out on track together ahead of the 2022 season.

Alpine were not exactly lighting up the timing screens in Barcelona, though the team suggested that was by design, but they did nonetheless manage to gather 266 laps of data for the A522.

It could have been more, but their test ended prematurely thanks to a fiery engine for Alonso on the morning of day three.

So to Alonso’s mind, while he was generally happy with how the test went, he nonetheless believes that some of Alpine’s rivals outsmarted them.

“With the new regulations there are always a lot of things to test and adjust,” Marca quote him as having said in an interview with Forbes.

“I think we have made progress, the truth is that other teams seemed to be more prepared, they went out from the beginning, they got the time super easy, they did long runs.

“We started more slowly. At the end of the day I was happy, but I think there were other teams a little bit smarter than us.”

Fernando Alonso leaves the pits in the Alpine A522. Barcelona February 2022.

Through his 141 laps behind the wheel of the A522 in Barcelona, Alonso was able to discover that these new 2022 challengers have a different feel when driving.

One of the biggest changes he noticed was that since these cars now rely on ground effect aerodynamics, the slow corners are actually now more challenging than the fast ones.

“They are different cars, they work in a different way because they have a ground effect,” said the two-time World Champion.

“They have the feeling that the faster you go the more grip there is because you have tunnels underneath the floor of the car that generate all the downforce and you generate more at 300 km/h than at 100 km/h.

“They are more aerodynamic. Although it is a contradiction in terms, the fast corners are easier than the slow ones because you have less downforce.

“You have to change the ‘chip’ a bit compared to last year, they are cars that run very low to generate more downforce, very hard on suspension so that they are always low and, therefore, they are different cars, but we will adapt.”

Alonso made his return to Formula 1 in 2021 with Alpine, though it took him a fair few races to get back to top form.

This time around though, Alonso is feeling much better prepared for the upcoming 2022 season.

“I’m much better now than last year at this stage, I’ve been able to train well, do simulator, and I feel good and 100% for a very intense year,” he said.

 

Many drivers and teams have predicted that the 2022 campaign will be characterised by an intense development battle, a view which Alonso shares also.

He expects that after “four or five races”, two teams at most will be hoovering up the race wins, so then it is over to Alpine to work fast and close the gap.

“Every race we will have many tenths of improvement because it will be easy to evolve at the beginning, we must try to be fast on track, but also in the factory,” said the Spaniard.

“After four or five races there will be one or two teams at the most that win every race and the other teams will copy what they have. Next year they are all going to be the same.

“I haven’t seen other cars in detail yet, nothing flashy, but all the cars are similar in the background and during the year the rest will be getting closer.”

 

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