‘It’s like the cards have been redistributed’ – Alpine drivers excited for ‘fresh start’ in 2022
Alpine team mates Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso have shown off their new charger, the A522, in a launch show in Paris – with the pair aiming to end 2022 with “no regrets” as Formula 1 moves into a new era of regulations.
The blue and pink A522 became the ninth 2022 car to be officially unveiled in Alpine’s glitzy launch, as the team showed off both the new machine, new colours and new Team Principal, in the shape of former Aston Martin boss Otmar Szafnauer.
It was Ocon who claimed the Alpine brand’s first ever win in 2021 with his own maiden victory at the Hungaroring. And the Frenchman said he was relishing the chance for a “fresh start” for the team – who finished sixth in the 2021 constructors’ standings – as Formula 1’s radical new regulations come online in 2022.
“This year is extremely exciting for Formula 1 and for us as a team,” said Ocon. “It’s like the cards have been redistributed, it’s a fresh start and there is going to be a real mix without immediately knowing who will be at the front.
“We don’t know what will happen; you could say that provides some anxiety, heading into the unknown, but I find that exciting. It’s not necessarily about who will start the season the quickest, but more about who will end it the quickest. We know there will be a high rate of development from all the teams through the year, almost like a race in the design offices away from the track!
“It’s going to be a great challenge for us drivers, where hopefully we can follow cars closer and enjoy some closer racing. Let’s see, though; all of this is subject to confirmation and we will have a much clearer picture at the end of the tests.
“We don’t know where our competitors will be, but we will concentrate only on ourselves,” added Ocon. “You always hear rumours from other teams. Some will be ahead of the game, others not, but it’s hard to tell. What I do know is that we will push flat out! Our aim is to come out from race weekends with no regrets and deliver everything possible with what we have. That is how I am approaching the season.”
Team mate Alonso spent part of January recovering from jaw surgery following a cycling accident last year. And the two-time champion – who former Renault Technical Director Pat Symonds has tipped to shine under the new rules – said there was a “real feeling of optimism” in the squad ahead of hitting the track for pre-season running at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on February 23.
“We have been asking for closer racing between cars, especially in the corners,” said Alonso. “We will have to wait and see if these regulations allow closer racing, but I will never be upset with the idea of more exciting racing. The sport is moving in the right direction off track too, thanks to the introduction of things like a budget cap. We hope it can bring more fairer racing between all of the teams with limits on spending to stop others outspending the rest.
“Last year was more of a transitional one for the team and obviously a continuation of the 2020 cars,” added Alonso, who scored the first podium of his F1 comeback in Qatar last year. “This year, though, there is a real feeling of optimism in the team. We’ve worked hard in Enstone and Viry over the winter.
“We will not know where everyone stands until the cars are wheeled out for the first time in Barcelona, but the anticipation of this moment is always special for everyone involved!”