Alpine entered the new Formula 1 campaign expecting to be on the backfoot, according to its Executive Director, and has accepted it is still playing catch-up in the midfield.
Alpine snuck through to Q3 in Bahrain, courtesy of the returning Fernando Alonso, but failed to score points in the race.
Alonso was hampered by overheating brakes, caused by debris, while Esteban Ocon’s race was compromised when he was hit by Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel.
Alpine finished outside of the top 10 during practice for Formula 1’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix on Friday, with Ocon 11th and Alonso 13th, sandwiching Williams’ Nicholas Latifi.
“Going into the test [in Bahrain] we knew we had some… we experienced some headwind during the winter with some of the regulation changes but also we had a few issues with the windtunnel that slowed us in terms of development,” said Executive Director Marcin Budkowski.
“We knew we didn’t have the best possible winter so we were expecting to be on the back foot in terms of pace. Testing kind of confirmed that.
“We did make progress during the test with a few things we tested that were an improvement but we knew we were on the backfoot.
“Interestingly we ended up pretty much where we thought we would end up [in terms of position] but we got it wrong on some of the cars that were in front of us and some that ended up behind us.
“In terms of competitiveness, if you want, compared to the front unfortunately it wasn’t too much of a surprise.
“Obviously it didn’t go well for us because we had a reliability issue; honestly we could have had both cars in the points with a bit less bad luck but still if we had been in the points it would have been for the small points not the big points.”
Alpine has brought updates to its A521 at Imola but Budkowski cautioned that the new components will not transform the team’s prospects at a venue where it scored a podium six months ago.
“In terms of reaction most of the upgrades we have here were planned already, you don’t re-do the front wing or a nose in two weeks, so they were planned upgrades,” he said.
“Some of the stuff we are testing here is the result of the Bahrain test and the race. We are pushing hard to try to improve our performance, and [that] is clear from the number of upgrades.
“But first of all we are further behind than we’d like to be so it’s going to take more than a few upgrades, and then I don’t expect everyone else is waiting for us [as] everyone else is going to improve their car.
“It looks like the car is going to progress this weekend with the upgrades but we’ve got more work to do in the next few races to bring a bit more.”