Alpine: Fernando had an incredible comeback season

alonso ocon alpine f1 team photo

Alpine F1 boss Laurent Rossi hailed Fernando Alonso’s return to Formula 1 and praised Esteban Ocon for winning his first Grand Prix, as he looked back on the team’s ‘first’ season in the top flight.

But calling it their maiden season is arguable because this is the Renault of old skinned in the Blue of the company’s forgotten sports brand that needed sprucing up.

However, it is fair to say they were the minnows of the 2021 campaign, with only two cars on the grid running Alpine power, while Honda had four, Mercedes eight and Ferrari six.

With that in mind it has to be said it was a solid season for the French team, and a team effort too as Alonso feisty defence of Lewis Hamilton during the Hungarian Grand Prix, keeping the Mercedes at bay allowed Ocon to maintain a gap to win the race and deny the rampant World Champion on the day.

Ocon dished out his own payback at the inaugural Qatar Grand Prix, defending with all his might an attack from Red Bull’s Sergio Perez who had to settle for fourth while Alonso claimed his first podium since 2014. Proper tit-for-tat.

In the team’s annual summary, Rossi said: “Alpine F1 Team has just completed its first season in Formula 1. When we look back on 2021, we can be proud of our first year as a team and take a lot of lessons away from the season. We have delivered some good results amidst a challenging and long year.

“Esteban gave Alpine its first win in the sport after an incredible race in Budapest that will live long in the memory. Fernando also drove an incredible comeback season. With his podium finish in Qatar, we were all so happy to see him back up there where he belongs.

“We know we can count on his immense level of experience and maturity heading into a big set of rule changes in 2022.

“Even though we are all thankful for a short break, we’re all already very excited to get going with the new Alpine in 2022,” added Rosi referencing next year’s levelling of the playing field, which has inspired the Spaniard in his quest for a third world title.

This Tweet sums up an all-around more user-friendly Fernando in 2021:

Alonso: It’s been an enjoyable first year back in the sport

The Spaniard’s well covered two years out of F1 appears to have done him the world of good, becoming a team player and even at forty, it can be said he is at the peak of his prowess. His overtakes this year, and frankly putting the Alpine in no places it did not belong.

It was a year of vintage Fernando with the soundbites and theatrics that are part of the great Spaniard’s F1 backpack, and why he remains so immensely popular. This is evident in the adulation showered him wherever he goes, on Grand Prix weekends or beyond.

Quite clearly Alonso relished his return and summed up: “It’s been an enjoyable first year back in the sport. I’ve shared many great memories with Renault in the past and we’ve continued that tradition this season under now the blue colours of Alpine.

“We knew coming into this season it was largely a continuation of the 2020 cars with small changes, so we didn’t expect the order to change that much. But despite this, I think we still delivered a very consistent season with some fantastic results. Even though our package was maybe not where we would like it to be, our race weekends were executed perfectly, and it shows with how many races where we scored points.

“The win and the podium were obviously big moments for the team, and it’s results like this that will help us build towards a more competitive year in 2022. We have all of the ingredients in place at Enstone and in Viry and I am already looking forward to next year,” added Alonso who finished tenth in his comeback year.

Ocon: I felt much more prepared and ready ahead of 2021

Fifth in the 2022 F1 constructors’ means Alpine overachieved with two volatile drivers who gelled with Ocon maturing, inadvertently or not, sharing a garage with one of the greatest drivers of this era.

The 25-year-old inked a long-term deal with Alpine, in June, and rewarded them a couple of months later with that famous Hungarian Grand Prix victory.

Looking back on his fourth full season in F1: “I’d say, overall, that it’s been a very good season for us as a team. After a year of getting back into the rhythm of Formula 1, I felt much more prepared and ready ahead of 2021 and I think that was reflected in our performances and results.

“I was really pleased with the form at the beginning of the year especially with memorable qualifying runs in Portugal and Spain. When we had the dip in form between France and Austria, I was very encouraged by how the team and I reacted, to dig deep and find the solution.

“That hard work paid off in Silverstone initially before the win in Hungary. I felt we worked well as a team all season from the engineers, mechanics, both factories and of course with Fernando on-track.

“That consistency and togetherness is definitely what helped us achieve fifth place in the Constructors’ Championship. We were not the fifth fastest car every week, but we were up there in terms of extracting everything from our package and that is what we can be pleased about when reflecting on this season.

“That hard work must continue into 2022, and I’m excited to see what we can achieve!” added the Frenchman who ended the year 11th, seven points shy of Alonso in the sister car.