Alpine executive director Marcin Budkowski believes Mercedes will come back stronger after a weak start to the 2021 season. Despite winning the opening round in Bahrain, Mercedes did not have the fastest car on the grid. Red Bull took that honor away from the Brackley-based side after dominating throughout practice and qualifying. The team looked faster in the race as well. Due to new regulations that favor teams with a high-rake design, Red Bull are the team to beat this season.
Things looked good for Red Bull and Max Verstappen on Saturday when they qualified nearly four-tenths ahead of Lewis Hamilton. However, after a close-fought battle in the race, it was the Brit who took the checkered flag.
Alpine team executive Marcin Budkowski predicts Mercedes will leave their woes behind at Imola. Budkowski expects other teams to bring upgrades to the next race and believes Mercedes are no exception:
"You have clearly Red Bull in front and Mercedes not very far. I think they’re behind at the moment but I would be curious to see where they are in two or three races, because I think they are a big, very well-structured and very competent team and they clearly have some issues that they will sort.”
Alpine have also promised to bring some upgrades to be more competitive at Imola than they were in Bahrain. Budkowski said that the Alpine A521 will see changes to the rear of the car at the next race.
Alpine very much in the midfield battle: Budkowski
Marcin Budkowski believes his team is part of an ever-competitive midfield battle. Barring Haas and Williams, the eight other teams on the grid have a realistic chance of getting on the podium. When asked about the tight Formula 1 midfield, Budkowski said:
“I think that group with McLaren, with Ferrari, with AlphaTauri, with ourselves and Aston Martin – and I think Alfa Romeo were not far off either – that group is very, very tight. It’s almost like fifth or sixth to 16th is going to be tight."
"So our objective is to be at the front of that group rather than at the rear. At the moment we’re somewhere in the middle of it."
Alpine had a disappointing start to the season. The French team were one of four teams unable to score any points in Bahrain. Esteban Ocon finished the race in P13 while debris on the track caused Fernando Alonso to retire from the race in which he had qualified P9.
If Alpine can get the desired performance out of their car, they are certainly a force to be reckoned with. The team already broke its "podium duck" last season and now with Fernando Alonso at the helm, things are certainly looking up for the Enstone-based side.