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F1 2022 tech review: How Alpine unleashed the grid's most aggressive update push

Alpine had hoped to make amends for its Formula 1 results having flat-lined in recent years with an aggressive programme for its A522.

Fernando Alonso, Alpine A522

Making the most of improved resources at Enstone, and a much-improved power unit from Viry-Chatillon, the team ended up being one of the surprises of the campaign.

That was partly the result of it adopting an aggressive development push compared to other teams – with it bringing updates to almost every race of the season rather than staggering them like rivals.

Alpine A521 and 522 front brake comparison

Alpine A521 and 522 front brake comparison

Photo by: Uncredited

Alpine made a change to the location of its caliper for 2022, moving it to the front of the assembly, rather than the rear.

This was likely a decision driven by aerodynamic intent, rather than mechanical, with the design of the caliper enclosure also meticulously designed to ensure that the heat being generated by the disc had a means to pass through.

Alpine A522 sidepod comparison

Alpine A522 sidepod comparison

Photo by: Uncredited

Alpine kicked off its development programme with a swift change to the sidepod's rear profile, altering the shape of the downward-sloping section of the ramp quite significantly.

The more haunched outer shoulder also resulted in a deeper inner channel section to not only help define the airflow's passage but also have more of an influence over the wake being generated by the rear tyre too.

Alpine A522 rear wing comparison

Alpine A522 rear wing comparison

Photo by: Uncredited

The team also debuted a new lower-downforce rear wing in Bahrain, setting out the team's stall when compared to many of its competitors, with the Anglo-French outfit seemingly able to trim the car more at a given circuit.

Fernando Alonso, Alpine A522

Fernando Alonso, Alpine A522

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

The rear wing was retained for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix but the team took a novel approach to the endplate design, opting not to use a cutout in the upper, rear corner. This would have the effect of altering the downforce and drag characteristics of the wing and was a design that would find its way onto the Mercedes W13 later in the season too.

Alpine A522 outer floor strake comparison

Alpine A522 outer floor strake comparison

Photo by: Uncredited

The optimisation process continued at pace in Australia when the team altered the shape of the outer floor fence (dotted white line) and the ramped section thereafter (red arrow).

Esteban Ocon, Alpine A522

Esteban Ocon, Alpine A522

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

A great overview of the A522 at Imola, showing the changes made to the sidepods and floor over the course of the first few races.

Alpine A522 side detail

Alpine A522 side detail

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Close up of the sidepods and floor, which had been tweaked once more for Imola, noting the floor stay which the team had added and allowed them to reduce the overall weight of the floor.

Alpine A522 Floor comparison

Alpine A522 Floor comparison

More changes also ensued with the floor's edge (red arrow) and the outer floor fence (dotted yellow line), as the team looked to slowly introduce changes that enhanced performance.

Alpine A522 sidepods detail

Alpine A522 sidepods detail

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

A shot of the bib wing on the A522 at the Miami Grand Prix that the team had added, having seen others use similar solutions in the opening phase of the season.

Esteban Ocon, Alpine A522

Esteban Ocon, Alpine A522

Photo by: Jerry Andre / Motorsport Images

A top down view of the central section of the A522 which shows off the cooling gill panels used to reject heat from the upper surface of the sidepods.

Marshals move the car of Esteban Ocon, Alpine A522, after his crash

Marshals move the car of Esteban Ocon, Alpine A522, after his crash

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

A rare peek under the A522 at the Miami Grand Prix gives us a clear view of the floor fences, the contouring of the underfloor tunnels and diffuser transition.

Alpine A522 front wing endplate

Alpine A522 front wing endplate

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Changes were made to the front wing at the Spanish Grand Prix, with inspiration taken from Haas on the design of the endplate's leading edge (yellow line). This obviously also had an impact on the geometry of the surface thereafter too (red arrow).

Alpine A522 rear wing detail

Alpine A522 rear wing detail

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

A higher downforce rear wing also arrived, albeit the design continued to have the same design hallmarks of the other specifications already seen.

Esteban Ocon, Alpine A522

Esteban Ocon, Alpine A522

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

A look at the wing in question, with the DRS activated, gives us a view of the metal snubbers mounted to the underside of the wing to prevent it going too far when it's closed.

Alpine A522 beam wing comparison

Alpine A522 beam wing comparison

Alpine not only had a new low downforce rear wing specification at its disposal for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, but it also made the switch to the stacked bi-plane style beam wing layout that Red Bull had been using since the start of the season.

Alpine A522 side

Alpine A522 side

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

A new sidepod inlet also arrived for Baku, with the inlet moved forward quite considerably when compared with the old specification. This not only had an impact on flow into the sidepods but also enlarged the undercut to improve flow around them.

Alpine A522 side floor detail

Alpine A522 side floor detail

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

The outstretched sidepod inlet as seen from the side, which highlights how much of an undercut its addition created.

Alpine A522 beam wing comparison

Alpine A522 beam wing comparison

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

More optimisation for the beam wing arrived in Canada, as the team switched back to the more conventional layout for that circuit but altered the shape of the elements (dotted lines).

Alpine A522 sidepods detail

Alpine A522 sidepods detail

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

An overhaul of the sidepod bodywork arrived in time for Silverstone, with the crevice introduced earlier in the season extended much further forward.

Alpine A522 detail

Alpine A522 detail

Photo by: Uncredited

A great view of the bib region of the car without the bodywork in place. Plenty of equipment packed in here, while the scythe-shaped metal stay's roots can be traced back to when the team ran under the Lotus name.

Alpine A522 'Ice Skate'

Alpine A522 'Ice Skate'

Poking out from underneath the floor we can see the 'Ice Skate' solution that was adopted by Alpine, having been first used on the Red Bull RB18 but also finding its way onto other cars too.

Alpine A522 nose detail

Alpine A522 nose detail

Photo by: Uncredited

A look under the nose vanity panel at the internal structure and the printer ribbon-like pipework used to carry airflow between it and the driver cooling slot in the panel.

Alpine A522 detail

Alpine A522 detail

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

A rare view of the inboard floor fences which guard the underfloor tunnel.

Alpine A522 rear wing detail

Alpine A522 rear wing detail

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Another new rear wing specification arrived for the Austrian Grand Prix, as the team looked to find the perfect balance for the circuit and altitude.

Alpine A522 beam wing comparison

Alpine A522 beam wing comparison

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

More changes to the beam wing for the Hungarian Grand Prix as the team offloaded the outer edges to reduce downforce (dotted yellow lines).

Alpine A522 rear brake duct comparison

Alpine A522 rear brake duct comparison

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

The team changed its rear brake duct layout for the Belgian Grand Prix, deleting the external scoop to clear a path towards the rearward winglets (red arrow) and opened up an inlet in between the fence and tyre's sidewall.

Alpine A522 floor fence comparison (green highlight)

Alpine A522 floor fence comparison (green highlight)

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

The outermost floor fence was also optimised once more, with the ramped section rolled over to soften the transition both on the upper and lower surface.

Alpine A522 rear wing detail

Alpine A522 rear wing detail

Photo by: Uncredited

The team looked to balance the car for the Dutch Grand Prix with changes to the front wing and beam wing.

Alpine A522 floor comparison

Alpine A522 floor comparison

Photo by: Alpine

The floor optimisations continued for the Singapore Grand Prix, as the edge was reprofiled and extra metal inserted to help with flexion.

Alpine A522 floor detail

Alpine A522 floor detail

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

This continued in Austin, as the team introduced a solution seen elsewhere on the grid, whereby a flap could be found protruding out from under the floor from a cutout. This was connected to the ice skate.

The flap moved relative to the skate, rather than the floor, and helped reduce the impact of tyre squirt on the diffuser's performance.

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