Fernando Alonso is heading into the 2022 season brimming with optimism, the veteran Spaniard hoping the new 2022 Formula 1 rules deliver enough of a shake-up to put his Alpine team in the fight at the front.
The double F1 World Champion returned to the sport last year, signing for the same Enstone-based outfit with whom he won his two titles in 2005 and 2006 when they ran as Renault.
But his sights had always been set on the 2022 rules overhaul, billed as the most sweeping in decades.
“I came back to the sport … because of this regulation,” said 40-year-old Alonso, at the launch of Alpine’s 2022 challenger in Paris, when asked if the new rules could be a game-changer. “So it’s been a year and a half waiting for these cars.”
Formula 1’s new rules, featuring a complete redesign of the cars, are aimed at producing racing
Together with a more restrictive cost cap, they could put more teams in the mix at the front, if not completely reset the competitive order. Renault-owned Alpine, however, are tempering hope with realism.
The team returned to the top step of the podium for the first time since the Australian Grand Prix in 2013, then racing as Lotus, when Alonso’s 24-year-old teammate Esteban Ocon took his maiden win in Hungary.
They finished fifth in the overall constructors’ standings for the third year in succession and have since been through a major management overhaul, including Otmar Szafnauer’s appointment as team principal earlier this month.
Their target is to be in the championship fight within 100 races, starting with the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix.
The outfit recently beefed up their technical department and last week announced the signing of Otmar Szafnauer as their new team principal who joins from rivals Aston Martin.
At Monday’s launch, Alpine chief executive Laurent Rossi said progress and momentum would be key.
The team had to aim for at least fifth in the standings again, he added, cautioning that their form relative to competition would only become evident once they hit the track.
Alonso: The car looks fantastic with the new regulations in place and I like the new livery
Alonso, who scored a podium last year and whose future beyond this season will hinge on how competitive the team can get, said he was confident they were ready to take on 2022.
“I’m more optimistic than last year probably because the new rules gives you that hope that everything can change and you (can) be competitive from race one,” he said.
In the team press release he said: “It’s good to be back and I’ve been working hard to be ready for the new season. The build-up has been a long time coming after the rule change was delayed due to the pandemic.
“The car looks fantastic with the new regulations in place and I like the new livery. We have a new engine and we’re confident we had a good development in place for this new generation of car. We won’t know where everyone stands until Bahrain, but we’re excited to take the car for its first spin in testing this week.
“I hope the new regulations have worked and we get more exciting wheel to wheel racing this year,” added Alonso, a 32-time Grand Prix winner who will be starting his 334th Grand Prix at the season opener in Bahrain.
(Reporting by Abhishek Takle)
— BWT Alpine F1 Team (@AlpineF1Team) February 21, 2022