Alpine is one of the two teams outside of the championship contenders Mercedes and Red Bull to win a race during the 2021 season but Fernando Alonso believes the team still has a long way to go to fight regularly at the front.
While the team managed to secure the win, Alpine is battling AlphaTauri for fifth in the constructors’ standings, currently heading up their battle on 95 points to the Italian team’s 84. Next best Ferrari is some distance ahead, currently fourth on 201.5 points.
Asked ahead of the Russian Grand Prix if the French team was close to breaking into the group to fight for podium places on a regular occurance, Alonso was not optimistic of his team’s chances.
“[We’re] Very far. I think we are the fifth or sixth-quickest team out there. So, for us to get the podium, we really need a very chaotic race. Without that I think by good performance, top six top seven is the maximum position. We did achieve that in few races this year, I’m happy with the consistency.
“You need to be super lucky to get one podium. I was not so far. I don’t expect to be in the remaining races. If it comes, obviously we will welcome it but I think we need to work on realistic expectations.”
The two-time world champion made his comeback to F1 with the Enstone/Viry team with an eye on the delayed 2022 regulation changes. His fourth place at the Hungarian GP was his finest drive to date so far during his comeback season, but the team is punching above its weight according to the Spaniard.
“We don’t have probably the fastest car in the midfield, but we seem to have the best team in the midfield, so that allowed us to score points every Sunday,” he told media after the Italian Grand Prix.
Alonso says that the weather forecast for this weekend could play a decisive role in another surprise performance from the Alpine team. Heavy rain is expected to fall across Saturday while the chances of another wet race are not out of the question yet.
“I think that Monza was one of the worst [circuits] for us, that sort of layout and characteristics of our package,” he continued in Sochi. “So, here it should be a step better, you never know because you need to feel comfortable with the car, the setup has to be in the window.
“Straight away on Friday, the weather looks a little bit unknown at the moment or even quite wet on Saturday so it will be important to have a clean Friday, because maybe that’s the only dry running you get. You never know but we have more confidence here to Monza for sure.”
With rain forecast this weekend, many drivers are hoping that the race can go ahead as scheduled and there is no repeat of the Belgian ‘grand prix’ that was called after two laps behind the safety car in torrential conditions.
Recalling a wet free practice session in Russia, Alonso said that the nature of the circuit meant that should the forecast rain fall, things will be difficult for drivers in terms of visibility around the Sochi Autodrom circuit.
“The visibility was bad. I think it’s a very flat track, You know there are no elevation changes here so the water stands quite a lot on track. I remember Turn 1 being quite difficult, which is not a corner normally, but it was a real corner in the wet.
“So for Sunday, fingers crossed that it’s not too wet or not raining too much because the visability will be really bad and we don’t want to see anything like Spa for sure.”