Alpine shows off its might

AS talks to Pat Fry (chassis) and Rémi Taffin (engine), responsible for Alonso and Ocon's Alpine A521, about the strengths of the new car.


Alpine debuted the A521 in a cloudy Silverstone, with Ocon at the wheel and without Alonso, who will drive it for the first time next week in the Bahrain test. In a meeting with half a dozen media, including AS, chassis technical director Pat Fry defined the day as "incident free, which is the best that can be said in a shakedown." They were 100 kilometers of filming day "without problems" to reaffirm that the montages have been precise. Now, to pack it up for official preseason training in Sakhir (March 12-14) .

The manufacturers could barely modify the rules of the 2020 car, although the two available tokens did allow sensitive parts to be altered out of regulation. Fry does not confirm where they have used theirs, "it's a matter of principle, you never tell anything." It points to the rear and highlights "the flat bottom, the bargeboards or the rear brake ducts" as the most sensitive areas in the aerodynamics of 2021. "We have not yet recovered all the load that is lost with the new regulations, but there is solutions to try ". Why the secrecy, as did Mercedes? "I could see something in another car, I would test it in two days in the wind tunnel and have it in my car in a week." In the photos published after the test, hardly any details of the car were appreciated.

In the power unit section, the policy of postponing the new engine until 2022 is surprising, coinciding with the great regulatory change in F1, and maintaining an evolution of the previous design in 2021. This media asked Rémi Taffin, Renault's head of engines, about the reasons. "We had to make the decision last year, during the confinement, and once made you have to stick to what you have assumed. I recognize that we could have done well and I would have preferred to have the (new) engine from 2022 in 2021." Honda and Ferrari debut propellant this year.

A Renault engine in the style of Mercedes

The French engineer, present in the successes of Alonso in this team 15 years ago, affirms that they will have an engine tuned in mid-2020 that provides "more performance, without specifying the figures, such as the step that is it would give for a season ", and" consolidates the reliability ". For next year, he slides that they can turn to the Mercedes engine concept with the split turbo (which Ferrari is also studying): "Yes. We are considering it, we could go that route." Knowing that the power units will be frozen from 2023 onwards, they will "go further" with their latest propellant.

The RS20, the base of this Alpine and author of three podiums last year, had strengths and weaknesses. The Frenchman Ocon urges to correct, for example, "the entry of the curves in circuits with little grip, such as Portugal, which came and went". And he would celebrate that he did not lose the “top speed” that Renault wore on low downforce tracks like Spa or Monza, reaching outperform Red Bull. AS asked Fry about it, will Alpine be a benchmark in top speed? "I hope so, although it depends on the philosophy we have with the set-up and downforce levels of each circuit. We already had a reasonable top speed, although it was not much higher than the rest." Consolidating what worked, risking the tokens, testing the car on the track like the greats… Alpine advances at a brisk pace.

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