Esteban Ocon, Alpine, Silverstone, 2021

Alpine car development disrupted by border closures between Britain and France

RaceFans Round-up

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In the round-up: Alpine executive director Marcin Budkowski explains how the closing of the border between the United Kingdom and France during the winter break affected the team’s work on its new car for the 2021 F1 season.

What they say

Alpine, previously known as Renault, builds its cars in the UK but its engine facility is in France. Work on its car was disrupted when France closed its border with the UK in December after a new strain of Covid-19 was discovered in Kent.

Budkowski was asked whether that created problems building their new car:

They have, a little bit. The usual logistics issue that everybody’s been experiencing at the border, if you want, that delays the various parts, whether the engines or parts going between Viry and Enstone.

The biggest challenge has been really preparing for the fire-up and for the shake-down [last Wednesday], because our engineers from various engineers and technicians had to quarantine to be able to do the shake down. But as usual, we are getting around these restrictions.


Beckmann leads first day of Formula 2 testing

David Beckmann, Charouz, Bahrain F2 testing, 2021
Charouz were top of the times in Bahrain
Formula 2 newcomer David Beckmann headed the first day of pre-season testing at the Bahrain International Circuit. The Charouz driver’s best time of 1’42.844 was almost seven-tenths of a second quicker than anyone else managed.

Beckmann, who is stepping up to the category from F3, led ART duo Christian Lundgaard and Theo Pourchaire as the first of three days of running concluded.

Felipe Drugovich, who has switched from MP to Virtuosi for the new season, took fourth ahead of Juri Vips for Hitech.

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Comment of the day

Will Sebastian Vettel be back to his best following his move to Aston Martin?

Although I like Vettel as a personality (he seems to be one of the most amiable drivers on the grid), I’ve never considered him as one of the best on the grid.

But it brings me no pleasure to see him performing so poorly, and I sincerely hope that he thrives at Aston Martin, I’d be more than happy to revise my opinion of him and for him to have a terrific season. He already seems much happier, fingered crossed that translates to better drives over the coming months.
Dan Rooke (@Geekzilla9000)

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On this day in F1

  • 25 years ago today Jacques Villeneuve caused a stir by taking pole position for his first Formula 1 race, in Melbourne, beating Williams team mate Damon Hill by 0.138 seconds

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Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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17 comments on “Alpine car development disrupted by border closures between Britain and France”

  1. I think I saw Stephanie on Sky, a decently long piece on petronas fluid analysis. One of the few merc people I actually recognised going into the podium. Merc does so much winning that they can honour every one of their 1500 employees.

  2. The fact there are still fans that don’t consider Vettel to be ‘One of the best on the grid’ still baffles me.

    You don’t win as many races as he has let alone win 4 F1 world championships unless your one of the best drivers on the grid.

    1. It’s hard to judge his performance because against Ricciardo and Leclerc he has faultered. Also chucking a tanty and driving into Hamilton/swearing at the race director in crucial years hasn’t helped. He might be great, but he hasn’t proven to have the mental fortitude to be his best when he’s not easily securing pole positions thanks to his machinery.

    2. No offence to Vettel’s, Schumacher’s or Hamilton’s team-mates – but hardly any of these guys’ championships were won with an equally talented and consistent driver in the other car.

      F1 isn’t just about how good your car is, it’s also about how good your team-mate isn’t. Not to mention, which internal political games your team is prepared to play…

      1. I tend to agree with you S, winning machinery and opposition from teammates are very important in the equation. I would also add reliability and circuits on that too. With the passing years, it’s much easier to not retire from a race due to these 2 factors. Nowadays, with several parking lot circuits, drivers can make much more mistakes than in previous eras, where 1 mistake and your car would be ditched on a sand trap, or the engine would turn off. Quantities of races per year is also a huge factor, the more races, more wins if you are in winning cars. Also , reliability is hugely increased. If we compare nowadays cars from reliability standpoint with the cars from 60s , 70s , 80s until mud 90s, these cars are much more bullet proof than ever before the cars from hybrid era are really good on reliability . Hence we can see much more wins from these drivers from mid 2000s until now. The stats for F1 could show who are the best drivers in every generation, but the numbers don’t tell the truth when we compare drivers as a whole. There’s no fair comparison between a Moss from a Stewart, from a Hamilton, etc. , they are great drivers on their respective period.

    3. @gt-racer the perception that the Vettel we see today is a very different driver to the one we saw winning those titles, to the point where it has raised questions about whether he really is capable of operating at that sort of level again.

      It is not just that he was subsequently beaten by Ricciardo and Leclerc, but quite how emphatically the latter has beaten him. There have also been the inconsistent performances at Ferrari in 2017 and 2018, and Leclerc’s subsequent performances have made many think Vettel wasn’t getting as much out of the car as he could have in 2017 and 2018 – indeed, it’s made some wonder if he had a title winning car in those years, but threw it away with errors and inconsistent performances on track, and seen some commentators sarcastically refer to a driver “doing a Vettel” if they spin.

      Those frustrations at a sense of failing to win whilst driving for Ferrari are probably also resulting in some Ferrari fans having a go at Vettel for “failing the team”, particularly whilst Leclerc’s star is rising too. When you’re seen as failing the dreams of so many, it is perhaps inevitable that some will be angered at Vettel for being seen to fail them.

      I do get the sense that a fair amount of the issues he’s been having are psychological ones – the relationship between him and Ferrari did decline over time, with the pressures and stresses of that having an adverse impact on him. Perhaps, in a different environment where he may feel more relaxed, he might improve – but, right now, the past few years have not cast Vettel in an especially favourable light.

    4. Konstantinos
      9th March 2021, 8:36

      As a new fan I have not actually seen Vettel drive in a way that would justify his wins and titles so I am not sure if that is the problem for most people, that his good years are now a bit in the past. I do believe that he is good, as you say you don’t win titles by being bad, but he hasn’t shown his best in the last two seasons, consistently making mistakes or being consistently behind. Maybe it was a car and driver incompatibility?

    5. CasualFan-thesedays
      10th March 2021, 8:20

      I agree.

      I suspect that once internals politics took over at Ferrari, Vettel just lost interest and was not tapping into his full potential.

  3. For me, almost the first time Seb was directly put under aggressive pressure from behind in Montreal by Button in 2011 he bottled it, dropped the car briefly and lost the win. That spoke volumes.
    However, he is a skilled and experienced driver, his titles prove that but under pressure he is unpredictable. Good but not great – that is saved for a select handful.

    1. @Gmacz Perhaps people should’ve seen that mistake as a sign of what might be coming six, seven years later, LOL.

    2. Josh (@canadianjosh)
      9th March 2021, 16:00

      It didn’t really catch my attention to be honest, but that could have been because he was 2011 champion, 2012 champion and again in 2013.

  4. Adam (@rocketpanda)
    9th March 2021, 10:57

    Baffles me how people still seem to put Vettel down. The guy won Monza in a Toro Rosso and unlike Gasly’s that didn’t involve any accidents at the front, like when he joined F1 he was obviously something pretty special to win in an unfancied midfielder. At Red Bull he underlined how good he was by grabbing four world titles at a relatively young age, becoming third in the overall wins tally and in one year winning nine races back to back.

    Putting down those achievements as ‘down to the car’ confuses me as the same people saying that are those that also defend Hamilton’s, despite Red Bull never enjoying quite the domination the Mercedes of recent years has or for as long. I’d say though he’s guilty of the same brain fade Raikkonen & Button have, that if the car isn’t working to his exact liking or it’s obvious that he can’t win he tends to lose interest or bin the car – so bashing him for letting his emotions get to him or having poor attention is fair.

    But bashing him for a lack of talent seems ridiculous when it’s clear he’s got a lot of it, it’s just a shame so far that only Red Bull/Toro Rosso managed to extract it out of him consistently. If Aston Martin can give him the environment he needs to thrive I’ve got no doubt he’ll be something pretty special.

  5. Errrr….is it just me or is the name STEMettes not a bit patronising? It’s a bit like giving pink toolboxes to the girls?

    1. Tell that to the women that named themselves that.

      1. @Aiii: I know…that’s what I don’t understand…STEMette isn’t a million miles off of Smurfette. I’ve worked in Engineering all my adult life and whilst I firmly believe that most fellas don’t really care what gender someone as long they’re any good at their job, this is just asking for the girls to be teased mercilessly!

  6. (dramatic music)


  7. I think that the livery and shape of that F2 Charouz is far sexier than any of the F1 cars. Looks brilliant in that side shot above.

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