Fans have become accustomed to the idea of the ‘midfield’ in Formula 1. But after a strong display from many teams on the grid at Bahrain’s pre-season test, Alpine Executive Director Marcin Budkowski believes that the traditional idea of ‘midfield teams’ being blown out of the water for 2021.
The Alpine Budkowski squad – the team that Renault has entered this season – was one of those teams that did so strongly, the team honing the fourth biggest lap of all by 396, and with the data showing that it had a good speed in their A521.
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But despite the positive, fertile test, Budkowski would not have been drawn to where he felt Alpine was in the packing order.
“Honestly I don’t know, it’s a pity – a difficult one to call really,” Budkowski said. “I think it’s no longer a midfield, it’s a field. We still expect Mercedes at the front; they have clearly had a few issues and may have been bagging a bit of sand at the start of the test, and we still expect Red Bull to be strong.
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“But behind that, it’s a field, really, and it’s hard to say where we are in this field. I expect to be competitive, but McLaren look good, they look sleek, Aston Martin when they run look a bit slick. And the rest, I don’t know. ”
It remains to be seen how close the field will be in 2021 – by deserving the Bahrain Grand Prix that opens the season and the race after that is likely to give us more of an idea than it does. test.
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But Alpine have one key asset in their locker that should benefit them this season: Fernando Alonso, a two-time returning champion. And despite a pre-test bike crash that threatened to relegate the Spaniard to F1, Budkowski assured fans that Alonso was “at the top” heading into 2021.
“He was on it,” Budkowski said. “He was in the car, instantly, reliable, giving amazing feedback to the engineers. That’s what you expect from Fernando.
“Luckily we had it coming to a few races last year, we had a test on an older spec car a few times, we had it in the car in Abu Dhabi as a returning young driver , if you will, in the car, so he was already integrated into the team.
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“He’s been spending time in the simulator over the winter as well as the engineers, so he was on, and to be honest, he’s not. [after effects] from his accident either. It’s on the top. “
Alonso and teammate Esteban Ocon will be out on the A521 on March 26-28, with the Alpine team ready for their first race weekend trip at the Bahrain Grand Prix.