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The 2022 Formula 1 season is just around the corner so, for every team on the grid, we have two key questions ahead of the 23-race campaign that sees a new era of cars on track. Today is the turn of Alpine, the squad heading to its second year in F1 with Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon at the wheel.

Will Alonso’s experience pay dividends as new regulations come into force?

Now the oldest driver on the grid, Fernando Alonso returned to F1 in 2021 after two years away. The two-time champion put in some crucial performances last season, most notably his steadfast defense against Lewis Hamilton in Hungary, which ensured team-mate Esteban Ocon would win the race, and followed up with a podium finish in Qatar.

READ MORE: 8 reasons the pecking order could change in 2022

Alonso clearly hasn’t lost any of the characteristic qualities that make him such a prized asset to Alpine, but his experience will be invaluable to the team in 2022.

The Spaniard’s influence on the car’s development will not only be a crucial factor – he has raced through a number of major F1 rule changes, including the massive overhaul in 2009 and the start of the turbo-hybrid era in 2014. , but their own experience in adaptation. to those rule changes will help you get going.

And if Alonso starts the season in the sprint while others struggle to keep up, he could pick up some results that could propel Alpine up the order.

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 2021: Fernando Alonso looking forward to 2022 with Alpine

Can Alpine become a consistent leader?

Of course, Alpine’s aspirations go beyond the fifth-place finish they finished in 2021, and Alonso joined with the same goal in mind. They want to be World Championship contenders again.

There is a long way to go; while Ocon took a win last season and Alonso added a podium finish, the team struggled to keep up with the midfield leaders in some races (including Bahrain, Spain, Monaco and Turkey) and finished 2021 a full 120 points behind the P4 McLaren constructors.

READ MORE: 2022 off-season is ‘tougher than any other winter’, says Alonso, as he prepares for regulations review

The Enstone/Viry team started 2022 with a couple of big changes: CEO Marcin Budkowski has left the team, his replacement has yet to be announced, CEO Laurent Rossi continues to oversee operations, while four-time champion Alain Prost is no longer non-executive. Director. The consequences of those outings may not be realized until later in the season, as Alpine has already fired up its 2022 car.

They won’t be left wanting in the drivers’ department, that’s for sure: Alonso has returned to his best fighting moment; Ocon is now an experienced and reliable broker who hit good veins in 2021; and Oscar Piastri will continue to thrive in his understudy role in 2022.

Alpine have most of the ingredients to become leaders and it should be a matter of When they will exit their state P5, instead of if. Perhaps it is too big a request for them to challenge for the front in 2022, but there is no doubt that they can take significant steps towards that goal.

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