Fernando Alonso’s worst grid position so far this year has been enough for Alpine to seize the opportunity and use a new power unit with the Spaniard, precisely at his home GP.
Despite not having started the year on the right foot, with a whole new generation of single-seaters providing additional opportunities for those on the Formula 1 grid to make the leap and enter the fray, Alpine has 9 more points in the championship than at this point last year.
As in 2021, the French have only conceded one ‘zero’ for now: at Imola, where Fernando Alonso was forced to retire after a slight contact with Mick Schumacher that ended up being fatal, and Esteban Ocon never had enough pace to try to climb into the Top 10.
failure at home
With the occasion of the home Grand Prix, the #14 aspired to leave a good show… that led to tragedy. A huge mistake halfway between the Gallic team and the Spanish eliminated him in Q1 of the Spanish GP, forcing him to face the start from 17th position.
To date, the two-time champion’s worst starting position in the premier category of motorsports had been 11th place in Miami, the first time he had not passed Q3 at the beginning of the year, without forgetting the 10th starting position in an Australian GP in which, due to a mechanical failure, he was unable to close a qualifying lap that would have served him to occupy the first or second row of the grid.
The only two points that Alonso keeps in his personal locker leave him for the moment in the lower part of the drivers’ classification, tied with Stroll and only above Zhou, in addition to the other three drivers who have participated in at least one GP and have not managed to finish in the top ten.
Based on this dismal qualifying result, Alpine has chosen to fit a new power unit to Alonso’s A522, even in the exhaust area. After arriving at limit of motors used without penalty in a season start plagued by mechanical setbacks, logic has prevailed.
Starting from the bottom of the grid, just 3 positions behind compared to what would have been a weekend without this modification, is a risk that Laurent Rossi’s men have decided to take in view of the fact that there will still be 16 more Grand Prix to be played after that of Spain.
On Ocon’s side things are not going too well either: the #31 rode in Imola on the second driver in just four races. All this is in line with Alpine’s main desire to have a competitive engine, albeit fragile at first, waiting to see if the ‘repairs’ to it as the season progresses end with a fast and reliable engine.