After taking the cover off its new car, the A521 during an online launch on Tuesday, the freshly-rebranded Alpine F1 team has completed the shake-down with its 2021 F1 challenger with Esteban Ocon behind the wheel.
The Enstone-based team presented its new car on Tuesday, on the same day when reigning world champion team Mercedes unveiled its own new car, Fernando Alonso, who is set to rejoin Formula One after two years away from the sport, was forced to miss the presentation owing to the current coronavirus-related restrictions on movement and due to his recovery programme following his bicycle crash.
Alpine’s new car, the A521 hit the track for the first time at Silverstone on Wednesday when Esteban Ocon completed the first laps with the new machine. The filming day was not the first activity in a Formula One car for the Frenchman as he already completed a test day in a 2018-spec Renault R.S.18 at Paul Ricard last week.
“It was really good fun today," Ocon said after his first run in the A521. First of all, it was nice to get in the car again at a track like Silverstone as that’s always something special. The car felt nice to drive for the first time and we managed to get through our programme as planned.
"There was a bit of a delay this morning with the fog, but once that cleared, the track was dry and that made the running very enjoyable. I wish I could drive for more than 100km, but that’s the limit, and I leave here with a smile on my face.
"We want to take that into Bahrain next week when conditions will be more representative with the race tyres and some heat. All in all, it was a very interesting day and I can’t wait to discover more about the car. I have to say, I love the new colours. It’s the best-looking car on the grid,” Ocon said.
Just two days after Alpine revealed its new car, the A521, Alonso and Ocon have revealed the helmet designs they'll be wearing for the 2021 season.
Ocon’s headgear design features the French flag at the back of the helmet and a bright red and blue motif.
The Spaniard’s new helmet will be dominated by blue and yellow colours, matching the flag of his home region of Asturias while the design will also feature a dash of red in homage to the Spanish flag.
While still recovering from his road incident, Alonso sounded bullish over his fitness and physical conditions ahead of his return. “I feel great and in the best shape I’ve ever been before both physically and mentally,” said Alonso. “I’ve been preparing myself for this comeback for quite a while now and I have a fresh motivation. I’m ready!”
He added: “I normally think that it takes every driver on the grid three or four races to optimise everything on a new car, maybe a bit more if you change teams or if you are new to F1.
“To be 100% up to speed it can take at least the first couple of races, but it is the same for everybody. I also had a small setback with a bike accident a few weeks ago, but luckily the preparation and my fitness will not be impacted and I’m ready to go,” the two-time world champion concluded.