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Alpine explain why their top speed was so slow in Barcelona

Alpine's three-day Barcelona test appeared unimpressive, as the team were only eighth fastest out of 10 and Fernando Alonso suffered a spectacular mechanical failure. But according to Alpine, there was more to the A522's slow pace than met the eye.

Alpine Sporting Director Alan Permane has moved to allay concerns over his team's pace and reliability during the first pre-season test at Barcelona last week. The French squad ended the three-day test only eighth of the 10 teams in terms of both top speed and completed laps, and missed an entire afternoon's running on Friday after Fernando Alonso stopped on track with smoke billowing from his A522, with the team blaming a split hydraulic pipe. However, Permane said Alpine's slow pace was in part due to an issue preventing the use of DRS for the duration of the test, as well as the team electing to run high fuel loads. "We have been hampered quite significantly by not being able to run DRS for a couple of reasons. Nothing major, nothing serious," Permane told The Race after Alonso's issue on Friday, without elaborating on why Alpine had chosen not to run DRS. "Nothing we won't have fixed for Bahrain, and we probably could have run it [before], but we chose not to. We know what the difference is by running it. "We're running quite a high fuel load for us in testing as well, which we picked on the first day and kind of got stuck there, really."

Alpine in a "decent position" after the first test

Not running DRS was estimated to have cost Alonso and teammate Esteban Ocon around seven-tenths of a second per lap, and Alonso's hydraulic issue came shortly after the Spaniard had posted his best time of the test. However, Permane said the team - which finished fifth in last year's Constructors' standings - had had a better week than some have speculated. "I don't want to sound like I'm making excuses," said Permane. "I'm not saying we're going to go out and beat Mercedes and Red Bull. But I think we are in a reasonable or in a decent position, honestly. "The lap Fernando did [on Friday] morning, although it was only one lap, if you look at the same time he did it, it's very comparable to what Max Verstappen did, albeit Verstappen's using DRS. "So if you overlay the GPS, which we can do with the systems we have from the FIA, the traces are almost identical apart from the straights where we lose a huge amount of time."

An Alpine ascent in 2022?

The 2021 season saw the Enstone-based team take their first win since 2013 - when they were known as Lotus - as Ocon kept his head in a chaotic Hungarian Grand Prix to take his maiden F1 victory. However, Ocon's fairytale win owed a lot to luck and circumstance, and Alpine found themselves the sixth fastest team on the grid for much of the season. With the outfit having stagnated somewhat in performance terms since 2018, Permane reckons the A522 could be the car to help Alpine reel in the sharp end of the grid. "My gut feel is that we are probably a little bit closer to the front than we were at the end of last year," said Permane. "I don't know what fuel other people are running, [but] I doubt some of the quick times by some of the midfield teams are done on anywhere near the same amount of fuel that we're running, so that gives me a warm feeling."

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