Floor upgrade for Alpine in Imola

Esteban Ocon

The Alpine Formula 1 team is set to debut a new floor on the A522 at this weekend’s Formula 1 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.

Currently fifth in the constructors’ championship, just two points in arrears of McLaren after three rounds, the Anglo-French operation has recorded six points finishes from six starts.

Three of those belong to Esteban Ocon, while Fernando Alonso’s sole points-paying result came in Bahrain at the season opener.

In Melbourne two weeks ago, a technical problem in qualifying saw him start 10th for a race he argued he could have been on pole for.

He then raced his way home to 17th after he was caught out strategically, the result a disappointing end to a weekend that promised much.

However, it demonstrated the potential within the 2022 car, with more performance set to be bolted on this weekend.

“We’re working through bringing weight saving items to the car when and where we can,” explained Pat Fry, the team’s Chief Technical Officer.

“Although it’s a Sprint race weekend we still have a new floor upgrade that we will test, so we’ll see how that fares in the sole Friday practice session.

“It’s a step in the right direction and it will be interesting to see how it performs on track.”

The Sprint format in use this weekend affords teams just a single 60-minute session on Friday before the cars head into qualifying, and parc ferme conditions.

As a result, Ferrari is opting to keep its powder dry on the development front, with large upgrades not expected until later in the year.

Regarded as a difficult circuit on which to overtake, it remains to be seen what impact Sprint Qualifying has on Sunday’s race in Imola.

“I think it’s good to mix it up and we saw last year that in some races the format worked well,” opined two-time world champion Fernando Alonso.

“If I look back then Silverstone was particularly enjoyable for me.

“Formula 1 has made some changes to the format for this season, we’ll see if these have paid off.

“It’s a tough but not impossible track to overtake on, so I hope we see some action from the field on Saturday and Sunday.

“There are a lot of points now available on three Saturdays this year. I’m hopeful we can come away with some points this weekend.”

Finishing first in Sprint Qualifying will net a driver both eight world championship points, and first on the grid for Sunday’s race.

It will not, however, see them awarded with pole position, an accolade which will be bestowed upon the fastest qualifier from Friday’s hot lap-style session.

“As far as Sprint Qualifying goes, I am all for the evolution of the sport and whatever we can do to make it more exciting for the fans,” said Ocon.

“I personally like this format and I am eager to get out there and try to score as many points as possible for the team.”

Statistically speaking, that will likely mean points on Sunday for the Frenchman, who finished seventh in Bahrain and Australia, and sixth in Saudi Arabia.

“Three races finishing in the points is obviously a good result for me, so I am for sure happy with how the new season has begun,” he said.

“Personally, it’s good to show consistency with solid performances in these early stages in a season but there is room for improvement in many areas.

“As a team, we’ve had mixed results and not being satisfied with where we stand today is testament to the progress we have made over the last months.”

Though his own performances have been a mixed bag, Alonso remains optimistic.

“I think performance wise we seem fairly consistent at three different circuits so far, which is a positive sign,” he said.

“We know it’s going to be a big development battle this year. There are 20 races to go, so there is plenty of time to recover some points in the standings.”

Opening practice in Imola gets underway at 21:30 AEST tonight with Free Practice 1, ahead of Qualifying at 23:30.

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