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F1 2022 season review: How off-track chaos derailed Alpine’s season

Looking into the French team’s season shows just how much they lost as a result of their own errors

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Alpine did well to progress on track as the best of the rest, but their season was marred by embarrassing conflict throughout the team.

Alpine Alonso and Ocon
Fernando Alonso leads Esteban Ocon during the F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain for BWT Alpine. (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)

After Renault rebranded as Alpine in 2021, the French team kept its line-up of Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon for the 2022 season. 

Whilst the team’s performances were relatively consistent, their year could likely have been more fruitful had their drivers tried to get on with each other. 

Alpine: an overview of their season

Despite failing to score a race win or any podiums, the team finished ‘best of the rest’ in the Constructors’ Championship.

They outscored their main rivals, McLaren, to take fourth in the standings with 173 points, just 14 more than the papaya team. 

Ocon delivered their best result as he crossed the line in fourth at the Japanese Grand Prix. Compared to his impressive maiden win in Hungary in 2021, this result is somewhat underwhelming. 

That victory should have been the start of something great for Alpine. But unfortunately, they appeared to go backwards instead as they failed to meet expectations. 

Arguably, one of the biggest factors that made the French outfit’s season so disappointing was their reliability woes. Alonso was affected by this the most, experiencing six retirements across 22 races.

The Spaniard has not made any attempt to hide his frustration. Referring to possible chances at podium finishes, he stated that “we lost by our own fault”.

Despite his frequent DNFs, he clung onto a top-10 finish in the standings, taking P9. Meanwhile, his younger teammate finished 11 points ahead in eighth place. 

Whilst Alpine managed to improve on their 2021 result of fifth in the teams’ standings, their season worsened overall.

A rollercoaster of a season

2022 began with a shakeup in terms of leadership as Otmar Szafnauer took over as team principal. Unfortunately, he struggled to properly unite the team.

Long gone were the days of Alonso holding Lewis Hamilton back so his teammate could take the win. The two-time world champion failed to fully collaborate with the Frenchman, with the two coming into conflict over team orders on numerous occasions. 

During the sprint race at Interlagos, the two collided twice on the opening lap. As a result, Alonso was handed a five-second time penalty. 

This was one of Alpine’s lowest points of the season as the conflict between their drivers was made painfully obvious. 

Another lowlight came through little fault of their own. Following gut-wrenching contact with Lance Stroll, Alonso picked up a controversial 30-second penalty at the United States Grand Prix. 

This was later overturned after the team launched an appeal, promoting the Spaniard back up to P7.

On the bright side, the team did produce some encouraging performances. In Canada, Alonso was tantalising close to taking pole position before Max Verstappen bested him at the last second. 

The 41-year-old lined up alongside the Dutchman on the front row. Whilst he was unable to convert this into a podium due to an engine issue, qualifying proved that the A522 could perform at a high level. 

Ignoring Alpine’s reliability issues for a moment, their drivers were fairly consistent. The two finished in the points on 30 occasions out of a possible 44. 

How instability ruined Alpine’s season

Other than reliability problems, the main thing that jeopardised Alpine’s possible success was the team’s political issues. 

Look at some of the most scandalous news of the 2022 season and this team was probably involved.

It was expected that Alonso would sign another deal to partner with Ocon in 2023, providing more consistency for the team.

However, on a mundane Monday morning, the shocking announcement that the Spaniard would be moving to Aston Martin sent Twitter into disarray. 

This was a surprise to even the Team Principal. Szafnauer and Alpine seemed to panic, hastily revealing that their reserve driver Oscar Piastri would finally become an F1 driver in 2023. 

Oscar Piastri drove for McLaren at the 2022 post-season test in Abu Dhabi (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

This is when things really became entertaining. The Aussie posted a now infamous tweet proclaiming that he would not, in fact, be driving for Alpine. After some messy dealings in court and lots of wasted money, Piastri moved to McLaren.

In the space of a few days, Alpine had lost a world champion and a promising F2 champion. To cut a long story short, they royally messed up. 

This chaos, combined with the animosity between Ocon and Alonso, somewhat ruined their season. If a team’s situation off-track is rocky, to say the least, how could they ever expect their on-track performances to be any better?

What to expect in 2023

After all of that mayhem in the driver market, the team eventually settled on a strong line-up for 2023. They are set to fully embrace their French roots as Pierre Gasly moves from AlphaTauri. 

Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly battle at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix (Photo by Bryn Lennon – Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

There has been speculation that Gasly and Ocon’s past feuds could create yet another bitter collaboration. However, there is potential for the pair to put aside their differences and produce increasingly strong performances.

Alpine’s 2022 car was far from reaching the unscalable standards set by Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes. 

Nevertheless, their status as the best midfield team puts them in a brilliant position for next season. With a rejuvenated driver line-up, reliable funding and leadership stability, 2023 should be a better year for Alpine. 

If they focus on fixing their car’s reliability issues, they should be in a great place to take advantage if any of the top teams experience problems. Following this logic, Gasly and Ocon should be able to achieve some podium finishes between them. 

A lot would have to go wrong for Alpine to take another race win any time soon. They will likely be embroiled in another close battle with McLaren, but perhaps this time Lando Norris won’t be the only midfield driver with a podium.

Featured Image Credit: Getty Images

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