Alpine says big engine cover on A521 'works for us'

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Alpine says the massive air inlet of its 2021 A521 is the result of a technical compromise that "works' for the French outfit.

Alpine's A521 features a momentous engine cover in relative terms that is almost a hark back to the big F1 air intakes of the 70s.

But the element's bulky design, while aesthetically striking and following a trend initiated previously by Renault, reflects a well-thought-out technical choice rooted in the team's quest to slim the lower part of its A521 to the max, according to Alpine executive director Marcin Budkowski.

"It’s a technical choice," said the former Ferrari aerodynamicist. "We found that slimming the sidepods was a positive direction, which is nothing new really.

"So we’ve repackaged and relocated some of the bulky things in the car and we’ve put them behind the air inlet.

"Yes, it gives a fairly spectacularly bulky shape in the car but still, we found it works for us. Yes, there are centre of gravity compromises but usually the aero performance wins over weight and centre of gravity."

So far, Alpine has been running strong in pre-season testing in Bahrain, with flawless reliability and a performance level that allowed Esteban Ocon to clock in P3 at the end of Friday's first day of running at Sakhir, just 0.472s behind Red Bull pacesetter Max Verstappen.

"It was a good day yesterday with Esteban in the car for the whole day," dded Budkowski. "We ran through all our programme, lots of aero testing, some set-up work.

"He was fairly comfortable in the car by the end of the day. Obviously, conditions were particularly tricky with the wind and the sandstorm. But a positive day in the office yesterday."

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