Alpine chief executive Laurent Rossi says his team was "lost" in the first part of the 2021 season and had "no idea what to do" despite a string of top-ten finishes.
Save for the opening round in Bahrain, Alpine scored points in every single race during the first half of the season and concluded that period with Esteban Ocon's remarkable in in the Hungarian Grand Prix.
But in hindsight, Rossi admits that it was a wonder the Enstone squad managed to put points on the board in the early part of the season given the team's lack of understanding of its car.
The Frenchman singled out Monaco where Ocon finished ninth as a point in time where the Alpine team felt it was stabbing in the dark.
"At the beginning of the season we were lost," Rossi said, quoted by Motorsport.com. "Monaco is actually a very poor memory and that moment we were lost we had no idea what to do.
"We scored points, but we didn't even know how!
"That was difficult because we couldn't understand the car so well. It was early days, after that we knew what to expect."
While the team continued to boost its points tally at every race, its performances widely fluctuated, at least in terms of numbers.
But progressively, the team developed a better understanding of its A521 while it also improved its operations.
"It's probably hard for you to appreciate it from the outside but for us it's actually way more linear than you think," said Rossi, alluding to the perceived inconsistency of Alpine's performances.
"As we went through the season, we understood the car much better.
"The biggest driver of improvements was really the way we operate. First to extract the most out of the drivers and then second as a team between the drivers to even push the boundaries further.
"It took us four or five months to get there but we built constantly, and I think Hungary was a dramatic display of when we get it all together, what it gives.
"It was a bit dramatic, but we saw progress, and then we started being way more predictive in what we would do during the next race.
"In fact, we knew we could score almost every race more or less a certain amount of points."
And scoring points was paramount to Alpine's objective of beating rival AlphaTauri to fifth place in the Constructors' Championship.
But the team's visits to Austin and Mexico City - two venues with low-grip tracks, a particular weakness for Alpine - yielded just two points. It nevertheless managed to keep its midfield rival at bay until the end of the season.
"We knew Austin would be extremely difficult," said Rossi.
"Everyone was like: 'Oh, maybe it’s the end of Alpine and AlphaTauri is going to catch up'.
"We were not sure we would manage to resist AlphaTauri, but we were sure which races would benefit us.
"On tarmac where the traction is a problem, we struggled finding a balance. In Austin you have bumps all the time, there’s no traction. We had to work on the traction and when we did that we didn’t work on the rest.
"From the outside it looked erratic, but we knew where the car operated well."