Alpine heads to 'unpredictable' Baku with upgrade package


Since its disappointing performance in Monaco, the Alpine team has been hard at work at Enstone preparing for this week’s round of racing in Baku that it will tackle with a slightly revised A521.

Alpine’s efforts in Monaco yielded just two points, courtesy of Esteban Ocon’s ninth place finish in the Principality.

While Baku is also a street circuit, and therefore perhaps another challenging venue for Ocon and teammate Fernando Alonso, the Azerbaijan Grand Prix circuit has different characteristics compared to Monte Carlo.

“Baku is also a street circuit, but with a significantly lower downforce level than Monaco because of the long straights and high-speed sections,” said Alpine executive director Marcin Budkowski.

“We have a small upgrade package, as per our development plan, so it’s been a busy week at the factory to have everything ready.

“All the while, we’ve conducted rigorous analysis and simulations to make sure we go to Baku with the best possible understanding of what our issues were in Monaco to ensure they don’t affect us again.

“We’ve seen some eventful races in Baku in the past, so it’s important to be able to make the most of any race events and capitalise on them.

“The aim is to be as close as possible to the front to benefit from any kind of attrition.”

Alonso’s Monaco weekend saw the Spaniard struggle once again for performance, mainly due to difficulties linked to tyre temperatures and to the track’s specific profile.

The two-time world champion isn’t forecasting a turnaround of his fortunes until next month’s French Grand Prix at Paul Ricard. But Alonso says that Baku will at least provide him with more overtaking opportunities on race day.

“After two races in a row – where it was quite tough to overtake – it’s nice to have a race where it’s more possible,” he said.

“I’ve qualified outside the top ten in my past two races here but gone on to finish inside the points. It shows anything can happen in what is usually a very unpredictable weekend.

“The circuit has a mix of areas where the priority is top speed, with the middle sector more dependent on downforce and mechanical grip.

“It’s a challenging weekend for both car and driver and finding a good balance with the setup will be very important.”

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