Alpine believes Fernando Alonso’s display at the French Grand Prix shows he is “back at a very high level” seven rounds into his Formula 1 comeback.
Alonso qualified in ninth position at Alpine’s home event and moved up to eighth spot, losing out to McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo, but overhauling both Ferrari drivers in a race that was dictated by tyre management.
It marked the second successive event at which Alonso secured top 10 finishes in both qualifying and the race.
Alpine’s Executive Director Marcin Budkowski labelled the team’s overall result as “a bit disappointing”, suggesting “we had the pace to score bigger points,” but was upbeat over the Spaniard’s progress.
“The race was all about tyre management and it impacted teams and even drivers within the same teams in a very different way,” he said.
“Esteban [Ocon]’s race was more or less over after heavy graining compromised his first stint.
“Fernando tip-toed on his starting set of Mediums and managed to keep his Hards alive to regain positions and put on a great fight for sixth place.
“He’s definitely gained a lot of confidence in the car and is back at a very high level of competitiveness.”
Alpine still holds a low-key seventh in the standings, 11 points down on nearest rival Aston Martin, with AlphaTauri a further five points ahead.
The Red Bull Ring, venue for the next two rounds, has historically been one of Alpine’s weakest tracks, having failed to score a point from 2016 through 2019.
But Budkowski believes recent gains, and successive eighth place finishes in 2020, provides encouragement heading to the back-to-back events.
“In the past it’s not been the team’s strongest circuit,” he conceded. “But we have addressed a lot of our previous issues last year and this is not a circuit we fear anymore.
“We are determined to build on the promising pace we showed in France last week and return to having both cars in Q3 and both cars well inside the points.”