Budkowski expects better from Alpine at Sochi

Jamie Woodhouse
Contact between Esteban Ocon and Sebastian Vettel at Monza. Italy, September 2021.

Esteban Ocon [Alpine] squeezes Sebastian Vettel [Aston Martin] as they collide at Monza. Italy, September 2021.

Alpine executive director Marcin Budkowski expects his team to fight for a strong double-points finish at the Russian Grand Prix.

Italy, it seemed, had been a solid showing for the French outfit, with Fernando Alonso taking home four points for a P8 finish, while Esteban Ocon chipped in with a point despite finding himself at loggerheads with the stewards.

At the start he had been ordered to return a position to Nicholas Latifi, before later collecting a five-second penalty after contact with Sebastian Vettel, both decisions which Ocon disagreed with.

But for Sochi, Budkowski is expecting his team to recover some performance and wants to see his drivers cut deeper into that top 10.

“Sochi will be better, not quite perfect for us, but better,” he told Motorsport.com.

“I think we should go back to the level of competitiveness we’ve had so far, to rank in the top 10 and compete for a slightly higher number of points.”

After Monza, Alonso declared that Alpine have the best team in the midfield, praising their ability to extract the maximum number of points possible from race weekends.

And Budkowski did see Monza as a “decent result”, considering only Alonso had started the Italian GP inside the top 10, while their closest rival AlphaTauri failed to score a point.

“I think that, given our starting positions, to be honest, having both cars in the points was a decent result,” he said.

“Monza is a circuit where we knew we were going to suffer, as our car is not the one that best suits that type of circuit.

“Honestly, coming out with five points in your pocket, with AlphaTauri not scoring, it’s actually a pretty good weekend.

“For us, it was a pretty bumpy weekend, so to arrive with the two cars at the checkered flag is really satisfying. Alonso had a good start and a good first lap, but after that, the race positions were quite stable.”

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While Budkowski did not want to comment on the decisions from race control which went against Ocon, he did respond to the issue of Lance Stroll.

Alonso was frustrated after the Canadian appeared to gain time by not respecting double yellow flags, and after ruling that Stroll had reacted slowly, but eventually, the stewards issued only a warning.

“We thought we might go for Stroll at some point, but he was too fast, we were getting close just before the Virtual Safety Car, and it looks like Stroll benefited from the Virtual Safety Car, or just before,” Budkowski explained.

“Fernando told us that he [Stroll] didn’t lift off under the double yellow flags.

“Obviously he has to lift significantly. After the Virtual Safety Car he had twice the advantage, which doesn’t seem right.”