Alpine encouraged by low-drama bow of new power unit

Fernando Alonso (ESP) Alpine F1 Team A522. 23.02.2022. Formula One Testing, Day One, Barcelona, Spai
© XPB 

The Alpine team is taking a big step with this year's power unit in the new A522 chassis, with Renault switching to the split turbo approach first introduced by Mercedes back in 2014.

Such a sweeping change is a major gamble for the squad, but one they feel justified in taking given the potential advantages it offers in terms of aerodynamics and centre of gravity.

The new engine passed its first test last week in the pre-season shakedown at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona, where it proved consistent and reliable over the three days.

Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon completed 283 laps (1,323.03 km) over the course of the shakedown, although a hydraulic sealing issue resulted in a minor car fire and an early finish on the final day.

It meant that Ocon missed out on the opportunity to take part in the wet weather running in the afternoon, after water tankers had doused the circuit to simulate rain over the lunch break.

Even so, Alpine sporting director Alan Permane was happy that the new engine package had gone largely unremarked upon, which he took as a good sign.

“Honestly, we haven't spoken about the power unit – and that's a great thing,": he told the media. "It hasn't even been a talking point really, which is great.

“It's so different. It's completely different to anything that Viry have produced before," he continued.

Fernando Alonso (ESP) Alpine F1 Team A522 stops on the circuit. 25.02.2022. Formula One Testing, Day Three, Barcelona, Spain.

"It's more complex. It certainly looks a lot nicer and neater. But it just goes in the car and we've just gone with it, which is great.

“The drivers have had the normal comments about a little bit of driveability here, a bit of surge here and a bit of turbo lag there," he acknowledged.

"But the guys have just got on top of that and played with the settings and mappings and stuff, and it's gone away.”

The ack of any major issues with the new power unit meant that Alpine could even start analysing some of its new engine modes, although Permande said that they still hadn't run it flat out in single lap qualifying trim.

“We haven't been running that on full power,” he said. “I don't think we've done a lap on what they call ‘single ICE mode', which is the qualifying and the race mode. We've come close to it, but not full whack."

Speeds were significantly down across the board in testing, with much of that due to the sport's switch to E10 fuel - doubling the proportion of bio-sustainable fuel in the mix to a full ten per cent.

"It's very difficult for them to talk about power compared to last year because of the fuel differences and the big power differences," Permane said of the driver's reactions to the new fuel.

"They're certainly not complaining about it at all," he concluded. "We are very happy about it.

The first real comparison of all ten teams' new cars will come this week, when they head to Bahrain for the final pre-season test just one week before the first Grand Prix of 2022.

Gallery: The beautiful wives and girlfriends of F1 drivers

Keep up to date with all the F1 news via Facebook and Twitter