Fernando Alonso has signed for Alpine with the aim of becoming the Formula 1 World Champion and hopes to have the opportunity to do so when the rule change planned for 2022 comes into force – As far fetched as that might seem, there are some valid points as to why Alonso could give Alpine an advantage.
Obviously, Alpine will have to build the car that dominates the new era and will have the help of Fernando Alonso to do so. Budget caps will assist with this, but their full impact might not be felt for some seasons to come.
That said, whether in Formula 1 or in the World Endurance Championship, the Asturian’s ease of understanding of the mechanical aspects always works in favour of his teams.
This was recently confirmed by Pat Symonds, former engineering director at Renault when Fernando Alonso won his two world championships.
“It was fascinating to hear his impressions of how he learned how to drive the LMP1 prototypes, particularly in terms of energy recovery. He discovered several tricks that other competitors and team mates hadn’t seen.
“After a few tests, he went with them and explained that by doing certain actions, they would have more energy to reuse in other parts of the track . Fernando is really very good at this”, said Symonds in Motorsport News.
“From what has been seen, will Alonso be the first to find the keys to the cars that will compete in the 2022 world championship,” Pat Symonds continued.
“I’m sure he will. I think Fernando will be able to quickly understand what will really matter in these cars, how to work with the engineers and how to get the most out of them. You will also be one of the first to understand how 18-inch tyres work… In short, I think that this restart at the end of 2021 will help him a lot,” he added.
This is something Fernando Alonso talked about, which could justify his arrival at Alpine:
“I can see the Renault project because otherwise I wouldn’t have gone with them. I know that next year they will have the same results as in next Sunday’s race.
“The cars will be exactly the same, so I hope to be able to prepare a good project for 2022. It’s better to do it while driving, and within the team,
“The car that is born well leads the decade. We have seen it with Red Bull and Mercedes. If you are in those cars, you win four or five titles. In the past you won one and the next one was a flip”.
That’s why Luca de Meo, CEO of Alpine, also believes that having Alonso in 2021 will work in his favour:
“Next year we won’t get much better, but we’ll get better in 2022. In this phase, having an expert person like Fernando is useful on a technical and organisational level”.
This idea is not only shared by Alpine and Alonso, also former Champions like Damon Hill. “I love the idea that, in the end, maybe Fernando Alonso has chosen to join a team at the right time”,
Andrea Stella, an engineer who has worked with Schumacher and Alonso, said when comparing him to Schumacher:
“With Michael, the engineers have had a very active role in monitoring his capabilities, telling him where to do this and where to let the car do it. Fernando, on the other hand, understands the limits much better and it is very good to understand where he contributes and where the car contributes.
“He can prepare the car for the race very well thanks to this ability” says the race engineer,
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— Alpine F1 Team (@AlpineF1Team) February 16, 2021
“Michael was very analytical and we spent a lot of time talking about the car. Fernando is a concise person, when he reaches the pits in his first three words he has already told you 95% of his point of view.
“With him it was much easier to ask specific questions to build up a detailed picture of the car’s essence. His driving sensitivity was exceptional,” he added.
Another engineer who worked with Fernando Alonso, such as Will Joseph, came to place him ahead of Lewis Hamilton or Sergio Pérez:
“Is he just another driver? No, absolutely not, it is very clear that is at a different level from the others I have worked with. He is able to assimilate a lot of information, which is really incredible.
“He cares about the smallest details. It’s very refreshing and changes the way you work”.
For his part, Mark TempleIl emphasised:
“Fernando has a very adaptable driving style. The way he adapts to a car, a track or a tyre is impressive. He will come to you and say: “I think the problem is this. You look at the data and say, ‘I don’t see it. And that’s because he’s adapting to that problem.
“So limitations of the driver backup, but that doesn’t mean the problem isn’t there, it’s just that it’s hard to see it. Sometimes, if you look at his first laps, when he hasn’t yet found the limit, that’s when you often see that the problem first manifested itself in the data.
“What is really incredible about him is that he is very strong in all areas. Is able to identify and reflect on weak points, work on them and minimise them”.
— Alpine F1 Updates (@startonpole) February 5, 2021
Praise indeed for Alonso, and perhaps like Mercedes before it using Michael Schumacher to help develop the Mercedes car and team into the dominant force we see today, maybe we could see an early Championship with Renault Alpine, so long as they put the right resources in.