The team is preparing for its first of two home races in Silverstone this weekend, fresh from scoring back-to-back points with both cars across the last two races. Chief Technical Officer Pat Fry reflects on a bittersweet Canadian Grand Prix - which featured the team's first front row grid start since 2010 - and reveals a big upgrade for the upcoming British Grand Prix.
What are the main considerations for taking on Silverstone?
Pat Fry: Silverstone is a fantastic circuit for Formula 1 as the majority of corners - famed ones at that - like Copse, Maggotts and Becketts are taken at high-speed, which is thrilling for drivers and spectators alike. In the early races of the season, the A522 performed better in the higher speed corners relative to the lower speed but the developments we have been bringing have helped balance this. The main question mark in Silverstone is often the weather but, rain or dry, we have the ability to be competitive.
Will the team bring any car upgrades to the A522 for the British Grand Prix?
PF: Everyone at Enstone has been working incredibly hard to produce and deliver a reasonably big upgrade package - including a new floor and top-body - in time for this race. It's been a big effort by the team to have this upgrade prepared, so credit to those involved for maintaining the intense plan of car updates so far this season.
How does the team reflect on its front row grid start and double points finish in Canada?
PF: While it was good to score ten points in Canada, the main takeaway highlighted the importance for good reliability. Unfortunately, Fernando had two reliability issues in the race - one that affected the PU performance and, the other affected the suspension - which, after a superb qualifying, hampered any possibility for him to fight towards the podium places in the race. The latter issue caused tyre graining - plus the misfortune with the timing of the SC deployment - meant the end result was not a fair representation of what was possible in his race. As a take away from the last races we have made some steady progress with the developments we have brought to the car and we need to make sure we are in a position to capitalise on its performance if we're to achieve our targets by the end of the year.
Following a strong outing in Canada, Esteban Ocon is keen to add more points to his season tally as he looks to further cement his position in the top ten of the 2022 Drivers' Championship. Having never finished outside of the points at Silverstone, Esteban will be looking to continue his strong form at the British Grand Prix this weekend.
How do you reflect on the last couple of weeks as we head back to racing in Europe ?
Esteban Ocon: We left Canada with a sense of pride after scoring good points in the race. We had the car to score double points and the goal was to swing the momentum in the fight for fourth in the Constructors' Championship, and we did just that. Now we look forward to the next round with the objective of fighting further up the grid. We are bringing some upgrades to Silverstone, so hopefully we can have a good couple of weeks. On my side, I've used the last week or so to recover from what was an intense double-header, but more importantly prepare for the next races in Silverstone and Austria. I was in the factory this week dissecting the last race with the engineers and getting ready in the simulator. I can feel the whole team looking forward to Silverstone, one of our two home races.
What does it mean for the team be racing at home?
EO: It's amazing to be racing close to the factory in Enstone and it means a lot to everyone in the team. Most race team members get to sleep in their own homes during the weekend for a change, and many factory-based team members will attend the race in the grandstands with their families, which is very special. They work so hard all year so it's great to have them cheering us on and seeing their cars drive around this iconic track. Silverstone always has a great crowd of fans who are very passionate and knowledgeable about Formula 1, so we know the atmosphere will be electric and we hope to put on a good show for everyone.
You've raced at Silverstone many times, what are your thoughts on the track?
EO: Silverstone is one of the fastest tracks on the calendar and I really enjoy racing on it because of that. Historic corners like Maggots, Becketts and Copse provide some of the biggest challenges for drivers and also engineers. This circuit is very exciting to drive and offers a good mix of dramatic high-speed corners and frequent short straights, placing high demands on both the cars and the drivers. The weather is also a factor and can quickly change the character of the circuit, which has made for some epic British Grands Prix in the past. Let's hope for another classic this weekend and a good result for Alpine.
Fernando Alonso heads to Silverstone for his eighteenth visit at the historic British Grand Prix. After putting down a marker in Canada with his best qualifying performance since 2012, Fernando is eager to repeat that magical performance, as he looks to build on a third points finish in a row.
A front-row start and more points after the race. How was Canada for you?
Fernando Alonso: It was good to score more points in Canada even though seventh, and then ninth after the penalty was not the target at the start of Sunday. We weren't expecting to qualify as high as we did with second and the front row. I was obviously pleased with my performance in Qualifying in the tricky weather conditions. The race didn't unfold as we had hoped. We had a badly timed Virtual Safety Car that put us completely out of sync with the rest of the field, whilst other cars managed to capitalise on this. In the first part of the race, we had good pace but we then suffered with the air leak and I was losing engine performance on the straights. We must now shift focus on finding good performance and reliability for Silverstone.
What do you like most about racing at Silverstone?
FA: Silverstone is a classic race on the calendar. I've had multiple podiums, pole positions and wins. It's a real racer's track and it often provides good on track action. It's usually unpredictable with the weather as well. Sometimes you get very hot Summer days and then other times it's heavy rain and the winds can be quite high at the circuit. Whatever the weather, it'll be a fun weekend I am sure.
Approaching the mid-way point of the season, what are your reflections on the first nine races so far?
FA: It's been a mixed season so far for me. We seem to be consistently inside the top ten and on some occasions punching a bit higher, especially over one-lap pace. However, we've run into a lot of bad luck it seems so far in 2022. We've had reliability issues but also very badly timed incidents and Safety Cars. We don't seem to have benefited from many of these moments. However, the team are doing well and the factories are working hard to keep bringing upgrades to the car. If we can keep on pushing on the development front but also secure some of the reliability that has cost us points, then we will be in a stronger position. There's more to come and we've seen the potential is there. I'm excited to see how we do over the coming races.
Check out our Thursday gallery from Silverstone here.