Alpine A521: Technical analysis for the F1 2021 season

Alpine A521 revealed. Details and photos are in our news. In the design that was shown a while ago, there were some important changes in the colors of the car, to herald the change from Renault to Alpine. But it was to be expected that it underwent some changes concerning the final decoration. And so it has been, blue has replaced the initial black, leaving a combination where blue predominates, along with white and red, as a symbol of the combination of the French and British flag for the history of this brand.

In addition to this change, the slogan “Allez Les Bleus!” Has also been adoptedfor the group based in Enstone, where the chassis is developed, and Viry-Châtillon, where the Renault E-Tech 20B engine is developed. Although, as you already know, in Enstone they have not been able to do more than optimize all the allowed areas with those two tokens, being a design almost identical to the Renault RS20, although we will see if from the engine side there are important evolutions such as important changes that have been announced from Ferrari, Mercedes, and Honda. Strangely, the Gauls have been more silent in this regard, and I do not know if that is good or bad …

Another important novelty in the team is the signing of Russian driver Daniil Kvyat, who was last year’s driver at Alpha Tauri. In this way, the team ensures an experienced pilot who can replace one of the pilots in case something happens to the official pilots: Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon.

In this somewhat decaffeinated presentation due to the pandemic, Fernando Alonso has also been missed, who already confirmed that he would not attend the presentation event. Probably to rest and continue your training without wasting time after your bicycle accident. Also bear in mind that he has been away from Formula 1 for two years, so he has to work more than any other driver, and if you add his age to that, it will not be easy …

Where it will be is in the preseason tests, where it will make contact with the car for the first time. Until that moment, he has only been able to shoot something with the old Renault car to de-rust and be able to become aware of some basic operations. It will be necessary to see if having gone through IndyCar, Dakar, WEC, and also Daytona has helped him to return as a more complete driver and if it could help F1 in something.

Alpine A521 Front zone

Alpine A521 Front

The front of the Alpine A521 looks practically unchanged from the Renault RS20. The front wing looks pretty conventional, without any flashy stuff. Neither in the area of ​​the flaps at their internal end nor in the area where they are anchored in their external area on the endplates. Therefore, not too many interesting things in that place. Also, it must be taken into account that the limitations of this year have blocked development, being able to touch only those areas where they had more deficiencies.

The nose is a solution practically traced to that of Mercedes. They have copied the nose of the Germans, as have McLaren and Red Bull, although in the energy drinks team they have distanced themselves more with that nose with the striking air channels. In the case of the Alpine A521, the nose is very rounded, similar to that of the Mercedes, and almost identical to the new one on this year’s McLaren.

On the nose you can also see the S-Duct, and that thinning in the nose that arises just where the cone is anchored to the cockpit. As well as those canards or side flaps on the nose and the profiles under the nose to generate an air channel to redirect it towards the rear area. That is to say, in short, it is a nose almost equal to that of Mercedes and McLaren.

The front suspension triangle anchors have also been anchored higher, almost to the edge of the nose, as in the case of Red Bull, McLaren, or Mercedes. This was something that could also be seen in last year’s design. The brake cooling ducts on the Alpine A521 also remain the same, with the design that ended last season on the RS20.

The openings of the pontoons and the airbox also follow the same silhouette as last year, although there is a certain redesign in the inlets of the pontoon radiators, now in a higher area. They are quite small, but the opening of the airbox continues to attract attention, which is still very wide and flattened, with other extra holes under this main intake, just behind the pilot’s helmet.

Alpine A521 Middle area

Alpine A521

In the middle zone, there are practically no changes compared to last year. The only noticeable difference is the work on the flat bottom that was done to be able to adapt to the new standards, that is to reduce the surface of the flat bottom in the area just in front of the rear tire, and simplify the complexity of the bottom, without those profiles, edges, grooves, etc., that appeared last year.

That has made them lose downforce, as happens to the rest of the grid. We will see if any team has been able to do something to alleviate these effects or if it affects everyone equally. It is difficult for anyone to have taken something magical, or take advantage of a gap in the technical regulations since the changes that are allowed this year are minimal. However, those who had better downforce last year will have some advantage this year. Those who suffered last year, if they have not corrected it, it is likely that this year they will have problems and have to put more wing than the rest to alleviate that deficiency …

Alpine A521

As with the Mercedes W12, the Alpine A521 has not changed much compared to the car of two seasons ago, that is, compared to the W10 and Renault RS19 respectively. This does not have to be bad, but it is an indication that big changes should not be expected. Some already announce podiums, victories, and others for Fernando Alonso, but you have to keep your feet on the ground.

Where if changes are appreciated it is in the middle zone is the zone just in front of the pontoons, in the lower zone. Where the bargeboards have been added a drawer in the lower area in the style of Mercedes.

Rear area

Alpine A521 Rear

The rear area of ​​the car also remains almost unchanged. With the same line of the pontoons and engine fairing, and similar brake ducts, the same rear wing, with the two central supports and the double T-Wing that they already mounted last year, etc. Of course, it seems that the lower area of ​​the pontoons seems more excavated, generating a greater air channel towards the rear area, that is, between the intake of the pontoons and the ground, thus bringing more air towards the upper area of ​​the diffuser.

An important change in the rear suspensions. They seem to have copied the concept of the Mercedes and Red Bull, that is to say, very short and retracted arms that rest directly on the subframe of the gearbox. Something that has a direct effect on the aerodynamics and also on the vehicle dynamics. The effect on the diffuser is particularly important, generating a kind of virtual “double diffuser”. Something that could alleviate the loss due to the remodeling of the floor.

In this upper image, you can see well what I have commented on the ground. You can see that this piece of carbon fiber that sticks out from the sides is simple now and that it tapers as it gets closer to the rear tires as if it had been cut diagonally. That will introduce more turbulence under the flat bottom, and the diffuser will lose efficiency.

The rear wing and its endplates are also the same. Last year we already saw endplates very similar to those of Mercedes, and this year they continue to do so. With those cuts and three vertical profiles in the middle area.

In the image it is also intuited that the Alpine engine continues with the wastegates (those side exhaust pipes), they continue to mount to the sides, and not up or down as seen in other motorcyclists … It remains to be known what changes are under the hood, whether the power unit has been greatly improved like the rest or not.

Alpine A521 Conclusion

In conclusion, this third stage of Fernando Alonso with the Gauls will not be easy. I think Alonso is thinking more about 2022 with the big changes than this year, which is probably a simple transition to get back in shape and take it as a preparation for the next season. The president of the brand and Alonso already said that they did not expect great things for this year, which was a period of transition.

Alpine A521

Also, as I have repeated, you have to wait to see if the engine has improved or if the absence of news is because they have not made major changes. If they have simply been silent because they have something on their hands, it will be good news for this and next season, as the current engines will freeze. Otherwise, anyone who is left behind now will also suffer in the years to come… So, beware of being able to maintain the more or less equal performance of the engines before the freeze.

We know that Ferrari seems to have made promising changes, Honda has also given everything to say goodbye to Formula 1 in a big way, and Mercedes has made changes as well. It is not known how much each has progressed, but I hope that Alpine has also been able to improve along with it. And, if they have, to see if they do not give reliability problems as at the beginning of this season when they changed the architecture of their engine.

If we look at the newspaper library, Rémi Taffin said last year that “ This will be the last year of this family of engines that we started two years ago. It is therefore an evolution with all the work we did during 2019. There will not be many evolutions during the year, because we want to focus soon on the 2021 power unit. ”I hope that this will be the case and the change will be positive.

On the other hand, you already know that Alpine confirmed at the beginning of the year a four-year contract for the construction and assembly of the V6 Turbo Hybrid engine together with its long-time partner, which supplies parts such as pistons, Mecachrome. This is not a step forward, it is simply a continuation of what they were already doing so far …

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