Alpine boss surprised by ‘bodywork shaming’

The Alpine A521 features a wide airbox design

Alpine executive director Marcin Budkowski has expressed his surprise at the attention the airbox on his team’s 2021 car garnered during Formula 1 testing.

The Formula 1 fraternity collectively broke cover on Friday as pre-season testing got underway in Bahrain.

It saw several innovations and developments come to the fore, including McLaren’s unique interpretation of diffuser regulations.

However, most visible was the airbox on the Alpine A521, which is notably wider than has been witnessed in contemporary Formula 1.

Last year’s Renault featured a wider air inlet which funnelled into a more traditionally shaped airbox.

For 2021, that design has been developed to now feature a wider cowling over the engine.

“I’m a bit surprised by the amount of body shaming on our car – bodywork shaming,” started Budkowski.

“It’s a technical choice, if you want. We found that slimming the sidepods was a positive direction, which is nothing new, really.

“So we’ve repackaged and relocated some of the bulky things in the car, and we’ve put them behind the air inlet.

“Yes, it gives a fairly spectacularly bulky shape in the car, but we find it works for us,” he added.

“There are centre of gravity compromises, but usually aero performance wins over weight and centre of gravity.”

Davide Brivio (left) with Laurent Rossi

Alpine this year has Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso filling its driving ranks, the pair recording almost 400 laps across the three-day Bahrain test.

The squad, which was known as Renault last year, has also announced the signing of Davide Brivio as racing director.

It sees Budkowski and Brivio share some responsibilities, with the former looking after the Enstone factory and departments within, and the latter in charge of driver management.

“It’s a different structure to the one you’re used to, or probably a lot of people in the sport are used to,” Budkowski explained.

“The reality is, both Davide and myself report to Laurent Rossi, who is CEO of Alpine, which encompasses the car brand and the Formula 1 team – effectively building the car brand around the Formula 1 team.”

The new management structure comes in the wake of Cyril Abiteboul’s departure, the Frenchman having been the sole figurehead for the team when known as Renault.

The 2021 Formula 1 season begins with the Bahrain Grand Prix on March 26-28.

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