Alpine’s failure to score points at the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix on Sunday brought an end to a long-standing streak for Renault powered cars.
Since the 2008 Belgian Grand Prix, a run of 238 races, at least one car with a Renault engine strapped into the back has finished inside the points.
It was a development that was always likely to befall the French manufacturer this season, as it is solely supplying units to the Alpine team following McLaren’s switch to Mercedes engines.
A bulk of Renault’s engine success over the last decade has come from its partnership with Red Bull, who won four consecutive Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championships from 2010 to 2013, while its streak was maintained by Lotus, Toro Rosso, McLaren and Renault itself.
A difficult start to the turbo-hybrid era began a sequence of events that would lead Red Bull to rebrand the engine to ‘Tag Heuer’ in 2016, before moving to Honda Power Units in 2019.
Last Sunday in Bahrain, Fernando Alonso was on course for points before a sandwich wrapper infused itself around his rear brake duct, forcing him to retire due to overheating issues.
With Esteban Ocon being the team’s remaining hope for points, his quest was scuppered when he was hit by Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel on lap 44.
Ocon’s weekend already took a blow when he was eliminated in Q1 on Saturday, which he says left his hunt for points much more difficult.
“I think if we started further up the road, I think we would be fighting for points, for sure,” Ocon said when asked by MotorsportWeek.com about the car’s pace.
“I fought with the Aston Martin of Vettel today and Lance finished in the points. We were fighting with those cars.
“It’s clear what hurt us was the starting position. I think if we were starting inside the top 10, of course, you’re already in the points, but 11th or 12th, that would have been a chance for us to get into the points.
“But [only] just, clearly. We don’t have any margin, we clearly need to extract the maximum out of the car to do that.
“We have clear ways of seeing where we are lacking a little bit of performance or where we have an area to improve.”
Alpine was one of four teams who failed to score in Bahrain, along with Alfa Romeo, Williams and Haas.