Alpine confesses that they don’t ‘fully understand’ their car

Following an unexpected upturn in form last time out in Qatar, Alpine’s Marcin Budkowski admits the team is still working on understanding their 2021 machine.

Alpine Executive Director Marcin Budkowski confesses that the team does not “completely understand” their car, which has resulted in uneven results in the second half of the 2021 Formula One season.

Alpine has a significant lead over AlphaTauri in the Constructors’ Championship after Fernando Alonso’s podium and Esteban Ocon’s fifth position at the Qatar Grand Prix.

Alpine had previously struggled to keep up with AlphaTauri in terms of outright speed, but owing to their performance at the Losail International Circuit, they have now pulled away by 25 points.

“Here [in Qatar], McLaren is struggling a lot more than usual, Ferrari is struggling a lot more than usual,” Budkowski told media.

“We are in front of them not only because they are struggling, but because we seem closer to the guys at the front.

“It’s a combination of them being a bit backwards and us being on the front foot that makes us look particularly good.

“Do we fully understand it? No. Do we need to? Yes, and we’re working on that.”

Explaining the importance of tyres

Since winning his first Formula One race at the Hungarian GP before the summer break, Ocon has struggled.

Prior to Qatar, the Frenchman had only 12 points in eight races and had trailed Alonso on most weekends.

Budkowski believes that finding the sweet spot with Pirelli’s tires this year has been challenging for both Alpine drivers.

“There’s things we don’t understand, it’s fair to say,” explained Budkowski. “Quite often when you don’t completely understand it it’s related to tyres, because that’s the thing that can swing the performance

“We know in which areas our package is strong and which areas it is a bit weaker, so that certainly has an influence.

“When you are a second or a second-and-a-half off the pace, as we’ve been in some circumstances, then unless you get the setup dramatically wrong, it’s usually tyres and the way you operate and understand.

“It’s part of the performance differentiators in Formula 1 today, so we need to improve in our understanding in our modelling of the tyres.

“But you can’t point only at the tyres. It’s a combination usually of confidence. If the tyres aren’t perfectly in the operating window, then the driver loses confidence, the car is less predictable, then he drives slower and the tyres don’t switch on and you can easily get into a vicious circle.”

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