Alpine's Renault engine 'within 10bhp' of front of grid

By Sports Desk April 18, 2022

Alpine team principal Otmar Szafnauer believes the team's Renault power unit is within 10 brake horsepower of the best on the grid.

A strong start to the 2022 Formula One season has seen Alpine score points in each of the first three races.

Esteban Ocon has finished in the points in every race, though Fernando Alonso has failed to do so in each of the last two events, suffering misfortune in Saudi Arabia and Australia.

After struggling with engine performance last season, the team at Renault's Viry-Chatillon powertrain division concentrated on delivering a major upgrade for 2022.

Szafnauer has been impressed with the work they have done, the strength of this year's engine carrying extra significance because of a development freeze in place until the end of 2025.

"We think we've made a step on the power unit," Szafnauer said. "And we're within probably 10bhp of the best, and somewhere in the middle.

"I think Viry have done a brilliant job. And it's up to us now to keep developing the car.

"So that [the development freeze] allows us to work closer with our power unit team to make some improvements that we might be able to make with architecture changes on the chassis.

"Some other things that are still free to us. But also to now focus with what we have to improve on the chassis for the future."

Alonso was forced to retire in Saudi Arabia after a water pump failure led his engine to overheat, with Alpine unable to save that unit.

He was on a lap that may have put him in contention for pole in Melbourne, only for an oil pressure drop to force his engine to shut down in Q3.

The two-time world champion was last among the 17 drivers to finish the race, having seen several strategy calls backfire.

"It was O-ring on an oil seal," said Szafnauer of Alonso's qualifying failure. "The O-ring fretted, the oil leaked out.

"We have a fail-safe mode to try to save the engine, so when you see a drop in oil pressure, the fail-safe mode kicked in. And that's what happened. So the fix was an O-ring change."

F1 returns to action in the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix this weekend at Imola, where Ocon and Alonso finished ninth and 10th respectively last year.

Related items

  • Powell concludes the F4 UAE championship with a podium finish despite mechanical issues Powell concludes the F4 UAE championship with a podium finish despite mechanical issues

    Jamaican Alex Powell entered Round 5 of the F4 UAE Championship with a mathematical chance to win the title, but mechanical problems would hamper his weekend and ultimately scuttle his chances in the championship.

    Powell started his quest on a strong note, securing P3 in both qualifying sessions on Saturday morning. However, during Race 1, his clutch started to slip, taking away any opportunity to challenge for the win and valuable points. With skillful management of the slipping clutch, he secured a 3rd place podium finish, although it wasn’t enough to keep him in contention for the overall championship.

    In the reverse grid for Race 2, Powell started in P10, making his way through the field to 8th before half the distance of the race. An over-exuberant competitor forced Alex wide off track into a very sandy area; recovering from the excursion dropped Alex to 11th place, where he finished out of the points.

    While any chance of a Top-3 finish in the championship was now gone, Alex could still finish in the Top-5 with a good result in Race 3. Unfortunately, disaster struck before the very start of the race. While waiting for the red lights to extinguish, signaling the start of the race, the clutch problems resurfaced, this time resulting in his car creeping forward before the actual start, then stalling completely. Powell was out of the race before it began and eventually finished 6th in the Driver’s championship.

    Still, Powell's accumulated points proved to be crucial for the Team Championship, won by his Mumbai Falcons team. He also finished 2nd in the Rookie championship.

    "Not the weekend we hoped for. Some mechanical circumstances were completely out of my control. A special thanks to Prema and the Mumbai Falcons team for all their hard work over the course of the championship! Let’s keep pushing, and I’m already looking forward to the F4 Italian Championship," Powell said after the event.

    The 16-year-old Jamaican sensation will next compete in the F4 Italian Championship, beginning in May.

  • Red Bull’s Christian Horner to attend Bahrain testing amid ongoing investigation Red Bull’s Christian Horner to attend Bahrain testing amid ongoing investigation

    Red Bull team principal Christian Horner will be in Bahrain for Formula One’s first day of testing on Wednesday.

    The 50-year-old is fighting to save his career in the sport following an allegation of “inappropriate behaviour” by a female colleague. Horner categorically denies the claims.

    The PA news agency understands Horner, who remains under investigation by the racing team’s parent company Red Bull GmbH, is due to arrive in the Gulf kingdom on Tuesday evening.

    Max Verstappen will take to the wheel of the Red Bull he hopes will carry him to a fourth straight world championship on Wednesday – the first of three days of testing – and Horner is set to be in the paddock to oversee his superstar driver in action.

    Horner is also due to speak at an F1 press conference alongside four other team principals a day later.

    The opening round of this season’s championship takes place in Bahrain on March 2.

    Speaking at Red Bull Racing’s car launch in Milton Keynes last week, Horner insisted he would be in his position for the first race.

    Horner said he was unable to provide a timeline as to when the investigation will be completed.

    It is understood both Red Bull and Horner are keen for a swift resolution, but sources have indicated that a conclusion is not imminent.

    F1 bosses have called for the controversy to be “clarified at the earliest opportunity”.

    Last season Red Bull won all but one of the 22 races, with Verstappen taking his third world championship in as many years.

    Speaking last week, a defiant Horner said: “The process has been going on in the background.

    “Obviously, there’s been a day job to be getting on with, which is gearing up for the season ahead of us.

    “I am confident in the process, which I have fully complied with and will continue to do so, and absolutely deny any of the allegations that have been made against me.

    “For me, it is business as normal. If it wasn’t, I wouldn’t be here.”

  • FIA will allow Christian Horner investigation to conclude before commenting FIA will allow Christian Horner investigation to conclude before commenting

    Formula One’s governing body, the FIA, said it will not comment on Christian Horner’s future until Red Bull’s investigation has been concluded – but added it “remains committed to upholding the highest standards of integrity, fairness and inclusivity within the sport”.

    Horner’s role as Red Bull team principal remains in the balance following a claim of “inappropriate behaviour” by a female colleague. Horner emphatically denies the allegations.

    On Sunday, F1 bosses called for the controversy to be “clarified at the earliest opportunity”. The new season gets under way on March 2.

    A statement from the FIA on Monday read: “In relation to the independent investigation currently being undertaken by Red Bull GMbH, the FIA reiterates that until such time as the investigation has concluded and the outcome is known, we will not be commenting further.

    “The FIA remains committed to upholding the highest standards of integrity, fairness and inclusivity within the sport.”

    Speaking at Red Bull Racing’s car launch in Milton Keynes last Thursday, Horner, 50, insisted he would be in Bahrain for the opening race.

    Horner said he was unable to provide a timeline as to when the investigation by the racing team’s parent company, Red Bull GmBH, will be completed.

    It is understood both Red Bull and Horner are keen for a swift resolution and sources have indicated to the PA news agency that there could yet be a conclusion by the end of the week.

    However, it is thought unlikely that a verdict will be found before this week’s three-day test in Bahrain which starts on Wednesday.

    An F1 spokesperson said: “We have noted that Red Bull has instigated an independent investigation into internal allegations at Red Bull Racing.

    “We hope that the matter will be clarified at the earliest opportunity, after a fair and thorough process, and we will not comment further at this time.”

    Last season Red Bull won all but one of the 22 races, with Max Verstappen taking his third world championship in as many years.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.