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F1 | Emilia Romagna GP | Alfa Romeo and Alpine will introduce revised floors on its cars in Imola

As the teams begin what should be a frantic development race in 2022, Alfa Romeo and Alpine are already introducing big upgrades to their cars as the ‘European season’ starts this weekend with the Emilia Romagna GP at Imola.

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F1 | Emilia Romagna GP | Alfa Romeo and Alpine will introduce revised floors on its cars in Imola
Fuente imagen: Hasan Bratic - MotorLAT

This weekend’s Emilia Romagna GP marks the first race in Europe this season, and provides better and more sensible logistics for teams to bring new parts to their cars in time for the upcoming races.

And this is already the case for Alpine and Alfa Romeo, as both teams are set to debut new floors on their cars on Friday’s only practice session, ahead of qualifying – which will the decide the grid for the fourth ever “F1 Sprint”.

Floor updates are set to be even more important in 2022, especially because of the returning ground effect, which depends on an efficient floor/underfloor to deliver good and consistent downforce loads.

Speaking to Motorsport.com, Frederic Vasseur, team boss at Alfa Romeo, has explained the immediate plans for Imola and how the team is approaching the development race in the mid to long-term:

“I know also that now the development is starting from Imola and Barcelona, and so we have to be there at the right moment.

“We have some updates in the pipe, as everybody does, but they have to work, and they have to work as planned.

“We will have a new part on the floor for Imola - it will only be the floor this week. So far it looks OK.”

Alfa’s approach to car development is very different to that of Ferrari – the Maranello squad has so far not introduced any upgrades on the F1-75, and is instead getting a better understanding of what they already have. This, according to Vasseur, is not the route Alfa Romeo is going down, as he says his team will try to introduce upgrades “almost” every single race:

"If you wait like this, after Imola it’s Miami, which is quite tricky. Then you have Barcelona, which is okay, but then it's Monaco, it's Baku, it's Montreal.

“You have perhaps two different approaches between the teams. Is it easier to bring a big package each four events, or to try to introduce one component every single event?

“We did like this three years ago, because two years ago, and last year, we didn't develop the car.

“And I think it was very successful for us, and we will have the same approach. We will try to bring updates, not every single race, but almost.

“And we'll have the first one in Imola, another one in Barcelona, and we will try to continue to push and to develop as long as we can.”

Valtteri Bottas on track in Melbourne in his Alfa Romeo C42 - Image by Hasan Bratic - MotorLAT

Ferrari went away from the thought of introducing an upgrade package at Imola due to the fact it’s a Sprint weekend, so it would only have the one practice session before qualifying started. Vasseur believes “it’s up to the drivers” to do a good job with a new package and little practice time:

"For sure it's not easy when it's at the beginning of the season, and we are still into the process of introducing updates and so on. But I think it's the same for everybody.

“It's in the hands of the team to decide if they want to have an update or not. It's up to the drivers to be ready to do a good job in free practice. We know the rule today, and for me it's not a drama. You have tons of championships all over the world with one hour of free practice, or even less.

“But at the end of the day, it's always the best driver who is winning the championship,” concluded Vasseur.

Another team with an update ready for Imola is Alpine, as they look to continue their impressive form seen in Melbourne, where Fernando Alonso was setting the timing screens alight in Q3 before a car failure meant he crashed out in the final sector.

The team’s Chief Technical Officer, Pat Fry said that the team is “satisfied” with its start to the season, and hopes developments down the line can help cure its lack of race pace compared to its main rivals, and, more importantly, eliminate its reliability issues:

“We can be reasonably satisfied with the first three races. Clearly, our qualifying performance is relatively competitive since we’ve had both cars regularly in Q3 and, had we got things right in Melbourne, we could have been as high as the second row. We need to improve our race pace and we’re investigating what can be done.

Fernando Alonso was set for a fantastic qualifying performance in Melbourne until his car failed - Image by Hasan Bratic - MotorLAT

“There’s always the right balance to be found between qualifying pace and race pace and we need to continue to work on this to get comfortable with the car on low and high fuel. Overall, we’ve done a reasonable job and there’s plenty for us to improve. We’re in a sensible position and we’ve given ourselves a strong base where we can move forwards from. Our job now is getting on top of the niggling reliability issues to allow us to focus on bringing upgrades to the car.

“We’re in a sensible position and we’ve given ourselves a strong base where we can move forwards from. Our job now is getting on top of the niggling reliability issues to allow us to focus on bringing upgrades to the car,” said Fry.

The team’s immediate focus will be on a floor update at this weekend’s Emilia Romagna GP, and it will be tested on Friday practice. Fry believes it’s “a step in the right direction” and explains how weight saving developments are also part of the team’s immediate action plan:

“We, like everyone, are trying to develop the car as quickly as possible. We’re working through bringing weight saving items to the car when and where we can. Although it’s a Sprint race weekend we still have a new floor upgrade that we will test, so we’ll see how that fares in the sole Friday practice session. It’s a step in the right direction and it will be interesting to see how it performs on track,” he concluded.

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