Alpine F1 were the second team to launch their 2021 challenger on Tuesday, following reigning champions Mercedes, with them revealing a striking looking car.
Formerly the Renault team, Alpine is the French manufacturer’s sports-car brand and the team will run the Renault power unit once again this season as they look to build on a 5th-placed finish in 2020.
A lick of paint and name change aren’t the only things new in 2021 for the Enstone-based outfit, however, with top brass changing and one of the sport’s modern greats back at the wheel.
Cyril Abiteboul surprised many with his announced exit earlier in the year, with Laurent Rossi promoted from within to become the new Alpine F1 CEO. Davide Brivio, formerly boss of the Suzuki MotoGP team, meanwhile, arrives as racing director.
Stamping on the pedals, two-time world champion Fernando Alonso is back with the team that yielded his greatest success in the sport and on the grid for the first time since going on a break at the end of 2018.
Esteban Ocon joins him, meanwhile, to maintain one half of last year’s driver pairing, with Daniel Ricciardo leaving for McLaren for the new season.
Speaking at the rather clever, but unfortunately laggy, virtual launch of the A521 on Tuesday afternoon, director of racing Marcin Budkowski expanded on the technical specification of the car with it, similarly to the rest of the field, a carry on from 2020.
“We had to adapt and innovate but that’s what we do best. This year’s car is an evolution of last year’s mainly because of regulations.
“We’ve tried to improve every area that was left that we were allowed to work on.
“The FIA has made changes to aero regulations and so we’ve worked hard to try and recover any lost performance from that.
“We’re aiming to build on the momentum from the positive second half of 2020.”
Indeed, they’re looking to build on what was ultimately a pretty successful season last year and Laurent Rossi explained how work on the power unit was being targeted as an area for improvement:
“The car is based on the fundamentals of the RS21 but the team has made a number of changes to the chassis to comply with the new regulations.
“The engine rules mean we will be using an evolution but we’re trying to improve performance and reliability of the powertrain.”
Drivers Ocon and Alonso will like the sound of that, with the former also in attendance virtually:
“[The car] looks great, I can’t wait to get behind the wheel.
I’m hugely excited by the project, Renault made great progress last year and now as Alpine, we’re even more ambitious
“I think we’re in a good shape, the car is an evolution of 2020 which is good and we’re expecting to regularly be in Q3.”
Alonso, meanwhile, having only recently had jaw surgery after a cycling crash, was not there to take part but has also sent a message of excitement ahead of the new season.
“I’m very motivated heading into this new chapter with Alpine, and it’s of course very special to be back with the team I achieved so much with in the past. The spirit is strong at both factories in Enstone and Viry-Chatillon, and we’re all very excited for what’s ahead.”