The Alpine F1 Team is one of the new names to Formula 1 for 2021, with Groupe Renault renaming the Renault DP World F1 Team in order to promote the French marque’s sports car brand.
The team from Enstone has a long history in Formula 1 and are looking to extend that legacy in 2021, where two-time World Drivers’ Champion Fernando Alonso makes his return to the sport after two years away racing in other series.
What Happened in 2020?
The team, then known as the Renault DP World F1 Team, improved significantly from its performances of 2019, but they fell short of their target of finishing as best of the rest behind Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team and Red Bull Racing.
Daniel Ricciardo took his first two podium finishes since leaving Red Bull, taking third in the Eifel and Emilia Romagna Grands Prix, while Esteban Ocon secured his first ever top three finish in the Sakhir Grand Prix where he took second place behind Sergio Pérez.
They had their moans last year too, protesting the BWT Racing Point Formula One Team for apparent illegal rear brake ducts, but it felt more like sour grapes than anything, and despite the points penalty to their rivals, Renault still finished behind them in the Constructors’ Championship by fourteen points, ending fifth overall.
What Has Changed at Alpine…
Aside from the name change, there have been some high-profile departures, led by Ricciardo and Team Principal Cyril Abiteboul. Ricciardo opted to leave the team when a chance to join the McLaren F1 Team became available, while Abiteboul was given his marching orders at the end of last year.
Ricciardo’s departure has been somewhat offset by the return of two-time World Champion Fernando Alonso. It is the Spaniard’s third spell with the team from Enstone, but it has been over two years since he has driven a Formula 1 car in anger having spent 2019 and 2020 pursuing other adventures.
Abiteboul’s Team Principal role has not been filled, but they have brought in Davide Brivio as Racing Director, the Italian moving from the Suzuki MotoGP Team to play an integral part in the leadership team at Alpine that also includes Marcin Budkowski (Executive Director) and Laurent Rossi (CEO).
The team has used its development tokens on the back end of its A521 to improve what was the R.S.20 that finished fifth in the Constructors’ Championship.
What to Expect in 2021…
Alpine’s fortunes will likely depend on whether or not they have a fully motivated Alonso on their hands, if they do, they he’ll be pushing them to the limit to find the performance to move forward. There is no denying the Spaniard’s talent, but he is no longer the twenty-something that was fighting Michael Schumacher for the title.
In the other side of the garage, we have Ocon, who is in need of a strong season if he is to rebuild his reputation that has seemingly waned across the past two seasons. Granted, sitting out the 2019 season wasn’t ideal, and it took a while for him to settle at Renault last year. But he will not have the same excuses this year, especially if he still has one eye on a drive with Mercedes.
Testing went well for them team, but they did not set the kind of times that would make them stand out from the crowd. Indeed, they look like they will be deeper into the midfield than they would have liked. But you cannot rule them out, especially if Alonso pushes them hard, and they will be hoping for multiple podium finishes.