F1i Team Report Card for 2021: Alpine

The second entry today in our series of annual reviews about how all ten F1 teams fared in 2021 looks at Alpine, and drivers Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon.


Alpine team line-up - 2021 end of season at Abu Dhabi.
The team picture

  • Constructors standing: P5, 155 points

Things didn't exactly look too good for the team at the end of of 2021. Daniel Ricciardo - the driver they had been intending to build the franchise around - had walked away after being offered a seat at McLaren. Rumours were swirling that Renault might pull the plug on its Formula 1 involvement altogether, but fortunately this actually turned out to be a rebranding of the squad into one of the French automotive giant's iconic motor racing brands in the form of Alpine. And then at the start of the season the team principal Cyril Abiteboul exited without warning, leaving the team in the throes of a major management reorganisation.

Many teams have been left all at sea in the face of such stormy conditions. A lot rested on whether Fernando Alonso would be able to help lift the team as he made his return to Formula 1 after two seasons in endurance racing. Did the two-time champion still have what it took, or would he be past it as he turned 40 years old midway through the year?

Fortunately Alonso didn't let the team (or his legion of devoted fans) down, and he returned in good form and in high spirits compared with the doldrums of his final stint at McLaren. Of course it took him some time to settle in and get used to the new car, but once he did he was able to go toe-to-toe with new team mate Esteban Ocon for the rest of the season. Their combined efforts raised Alpine ahead of AlphaTauri, who were no slouches themselves this year. After his podium in Qatar, Alonso declared that it was proof that the team's masterplan was still on course - although in truth there's still a huge gulf between Alpine and McLaren ahead of them in fourth.

Race winner Esteban Ocon (FRA) Alpine F1 Team celebrates in parc ferme with team mate Fernando Alonso (ESP) Alpine F1 Team. 01.08.2021. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 11, Hungarian Grand Prix, Budapest

The driver line-up

  • Fernando Alonso: P10, 81 points
  • Esteban Ocon: P11, 74 points

Alonso comes out top in terms of the points standings between the two Alpine team mates, but it's been an especially close battle between himself and Ocon indicating that they've both been doing an equally good job in their very different styles in extracting the most there was to get from the A521.

In terms of qualifying this year it was a dead heat between them, with Alonso and Ocon each ahead in 11 of the 22 sessions. Understandably Ocon did better earlier in the season while Alonso was still finding his feet at the team, with Alonso stronger in the latter half of the campaign. It was a similar picture in terms of the race results, with each driver beating the other on nine of the 18 occasions that both finished the race.

Ocon had a blaze of glory when he secured his maiden F1 Grand Prix race victory in Hungary over a charging Lewis Hamilton. But Alonso's third place in Qatar felt almost as much as a triumph, his first appearance on a Grand Prix podium in just over seven years (when he was runner-up in Hungary with Ferrari). The pair finished the season running together in formation to the line in Abu Dhabi for another double points finish, an upbeat and encouraging way to close out the season for both the drivers and the team as a whole.

How 2022 is looking for Alpine

It's been a positive season for Alpine, steadying the ship and getting things going in the right direction after the uncertainty of 2020. The new line-up on the pit wall and the addition of Alonso in the cockpit have given them a certain confidence and dynamism that was needed, and the Renault power unit has also been pulling its weight sufficiently to keep them on a level with their rivals.

It's also encouraging to hear Alonso and other senior figures in the team talk about their 'masterplan' to get them back to the top flight of the sport, suggesting not only genuine ambition and determination but also actual logistical planning behind their efforts. Alpine seems to have achieved a solid foundation from which to make progress next year, although realistically they're probably too far from the big four at this point to position them to make that next step forward as soon as 2022.

Perhaps the best that the team can aim for is to see off the challenge from the likes of AlphaTauri and Aston Martin behind them, while materially closing the points gap to McLaren and Ferrari ahead. More regular appearances on the podium would also be a welcome sign that the Alpine resurgence is truly on course. However another outright race win would perhaps be asking for too much at this stage if Mercedes and Red Bull continue to cut a swathe through the upcoming year.

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