Alpine, then called Renault, and McLaren were embroiled in a tense three-way fight for third in the 2020 constructors’ championship, a battle which also included Racing Point, now Aston Martin.
While McLaren continued its upward trajectory in 2021 and now has to contend with a resurgent Ferrari for third place, Alpine and Aston Martin have both stagnated.
After Esteban Ocon’s shock win in Hungary, Alpine has jumped from seventh to fifth in the standings, leapfrogging both Aston Martin and AlphaTauri.
Ocon’s triumph was the Enstone outfit’s first win since the 2013 Australian Grand Prix, where it ran as Lotus Renault, but in 2021 it has generally lacked some speed and consistency compared to last year.
Alonso explained Alpine had calculated that Ferrari would come back strong after a wobbly 2020 but conceded that his team is further away from McLaren than hoped.
“I think the expectations or our ambitions at the beginning of the year was to repeat what Renault was able to do last year,” he told selected media, including Autosport.
Fernando Alonso, Alpine F1
Photo by: FIA Pool
“Having in mind that Ferrari had a very strange 2020 season with quite low performance, we were expecting that maybe Ferrari was ahead of us. But it’s true as well that we lost a little bit too much ground with McLaren.
“That Renault was fighting with McLaren until the last race last year and we are not able to do that this year.”
A silver lining for Alpine is that it has narrowed the gap to frontrunners Mercedes and Red Bull, and that 2022’s new regulations will provide an opportunity to make a big step forward at a time when Alpine will introduce its first brand new power unit since 2019.
“Looking and analysing all the numbers in a way, we reduced the gap with Mercedes and with some of the opposition,” Alonso added.
“So even if we are P7 in the constructors’ championship, we reduced the gap with the leaders and that’s how tight everything became. From ninth to the top, everyone is closer.
“The same with Aston Martin, Racing Point last year was fighting for podiums and even won one grand prix and this year we are closer to them.
“So yeah, it was a bit up and down for all the teams, for us as well.”