Image credit © ALPINE F1 TEAM
All Change at Alpine as F1 Testing Gets Underway
It has been a massively exciting week for Formula 1 fans. Nine of the ten teams have revealed their 2022 cars and livery. Only Alpha Romeo is left to show off their new car. They will officially do so on Sunday – days after all cars have made a public appearance at three days of pre-season testing at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya.
This informative series of testing days will run from Wednesday morning until Friday evening. Remarkably, the action will not be televised.
The latest car to be unveiled was the Alpine. Essentially a badged Renault, last year was Alpine’s first year on the grid. Understandably the 2021 car abandoned Renault’s traditional yellow colour scheme opting for a simplistic blue with flashes of white, red and black.
But, in 2022, the French team have chosen an outrageous pink and blue livery. Established fans will quickly point out the colour scheme is almost identical to the 2020 Racing Point complete with a large BWT-sponsor logo. Indeed, that headline sponsor has moved camp.
Otmar Szafnauer the New Driving Force at Alpine
A new paint job and sponsor is not the only change at Alpine. Otmar Szafnauer, who officially left his role as Aston Martin team principal in early January, has joined Alpine in the same capacity.
Experienced F1 technical chief Pat Fry – with experience at McLaren, Ferrari, Manor Racing, and before that, Benetton – has been promoted to the position of Alpine’s chief technical officer.
The only consistency at Alpine appears to be the drivers. Their 2021 line-up of surprise Hungarian Grand Prix winner Esteban Ocon and two-time world champion, Fernando Alonso, remain in place for a second year.
Drive to Survive Set to Return
While Formula 1 fans will have to wait a little longer to see the new cars in action – the second pre-season testing scheduled for March 10th – March 12th in Bahrain will be televised – there is some great news for armchair viewers.
The fourth series of Drive to Survive – the excellent documentary series produced in collaboration between Netflix and Formula 1 to give a behind-the-scenes look at the drivers and races of the Formula 1 World Championship – will be available on the streaming service from March 11th.
There was intense action throughout the 2021 season: McLaren surprisingly took the only one-two finish of the season at Monza. Lewis Hamilton stormed through the grid in the Sao Paulo Sprint and Grand Prix. Esteban Ocon won in Hungary, Sergio Perez landed a dramatic Azerbaijan GP and of course, Verstappen took his maiden Formula 1 title in controversial circumstances.
Producers have promised all will feature in the forthcoming episodes. Resultantly, despite a reported 50 million people viewing all or part of series three, the latest instalment could garner the biggest audience yet.
Huge Growth in the USA
The Netflix documentary has been recognised as the catalyst for the huge growth in popularity of Formula 1 in North America. More than 400,000 attended the 2021 US Grand Prix and unlike previous years the numbers were not swelled by a post-race concert.
Recently released figures show the 2021 season finale in Abu Dhabi had a global television audience of 108.7 million viewers, an increase of 29% on 2021 numbers. The cumulative TV audience for 2021 was up to 1.55 billion, up 4% from the 2020 season.
There were significant rises in season cumulative audience in several territories, including the Netherlands. It stood out with an increase of 81% year on year. Likewise, the USA saw growth of 58%; France 48%, Italy 40% and the UK, 39%.
* F1 odds correct at time of publication. Subject to changes.