The Alfa Romeo C43 is the car that Valtteri Bottas and Guanyu Zhou will drive in the upcoming 2023 season, which begins on March 5th in Bahrain. The Swiss team presented its latest F1 machine in Zurich, featuring a new colour scheme.
Last year’s white has been replaced with matte black, reminiscent of the show car displayed in Audi’s F1 entry announcement and similar to the colours often used by the German brand in competitive sport (Audi Sport).
Alfa Romeo C43: Key innovations in the centre and rear of the car
While the front end currently features no significant innovations, this “will be developed throughout the year”, according to technical director Jan Monchaux. Currently, the most important aspects of the C43 are in the centre and the rear.
“Work on this new car started a few weeks after the start of last season. It was clear to us where we could improve, and we concentrated on the rear area of the car,” said the French engineer, who then went into more details:
“We decided to change the layout of the rear suspension and the gearbox, which also resulted in a new layout for the cooling, new bodywork which was already planned last year but it was not possible to introduce.”
This was because the C42 had a different arrangement for its radiators, and the Swiss team’s technicians could not afford to change it mid-season.
The new machine from Hinwil has a different aerodynamic concept to last year’s C42, starting from the sidepods but also including the upper part of the single-seater.
The most observant viewers will remember that last season, Ferrari focused heavily on freeing up a large area of space above and behind the engine.
It was no coincidence that the F1-75 and Ferrari-powered Haas and Alfa Romeo cars had a more prominent fin than the rest, coupled with a triangular airbox that worked to make the upper part of the car as lean and clean as possible.
Red Bull, on the other hand, along with most of the other teams, had a very voluminous upper part of the car. This is because the cooling was more ‘central’ and useful for slimming the sidepods, accentuating the now well-known undercut in the entrance.
This was a very different concept that prevented other teams from using Ferrari’s “tub” concept, simply because it would have been much less efficient than the Italian 674 project.
Therefore, Red Bull and the Mercedes-powered teams found another solution, trying to emulate what the “goldfish tanks” did on the F1-75, thanks to an important tray in the upper part of the engine cover, which optimizes the flow passing under the rear wing and on the beam wing.
Then sidepods then come into play, through the downwash effect, to move the flow towards the upper part of the diffuser and the inner part of the rear tires to extract the aerodynamic load from the rear in the most efficient way possible.
Alfa Romeo could have kept Ferrari’s macro concept, moving further towards it and abandoning the false bottom. Instead, they went in the opposite direction, combining the solutions brought to the track by both teams.
As a result, the upper part of the C43 has become very bulky, with a tray directed towards the rear. In contrast, the sidepods have an important undercut in the front part, with a clearly raised entrance, similar to Ferrari.
The upper part of the C43 and its sidepods are inspired by Red Bull:
“Often in F1, it’s also about recognizing that one particular team has done a much better job than everyone else and understanding why they’ve done a better job in some areas and adapting that to our car in some way.
“We did it, we already wanted to do it last year, but we couldn’t because of the cooling and the rear suspension,” admitted the French engineer.
Alfa Romeo C43: Emphasis on improved reliability, filming day in Barcelona this week
“With the solutions designed for the C43, we believe we have unlocked further potential in the centre and rear”, said Jan Monchaux, who hopes to see improved performance in high-speed corners, which the C42 lacked compared to the rest of the field.
This is thanks to the team’s new aerodynamic concept, which will improve the management of the airflow towards the diffuser and the rear tyres:
“I have a feeling that this car, at least based on the numbers coming out of the simulator, is better suited to all tracks rather than only fast on slow tracks like the C42,” said Valtteri Bottas, who then concluded:
“A big weakness was the high speed, and in theory, with the C43, it should be much better.”
Important work has also taken place on the reliability of the Swiss single-seater, one of the teams worst affected by retirements and mechanical failures last year:
“There was a lot of potential to unlock by working courageously, which we couldn’t extract during the past season.
“It was also clear to us that we needed to work on reliability, a problem for us last year, and it must once again be our strength.
“We have therefore changed several things on the machine, but also at the level of internal processes in the factory to improve this aspect”, the head of the Swiss team’s technical department explained at the press conference.
Among the many solutions brought by the C42, the highly criticised roll hoop remains even after Zhou’s frightening accident last year at Silverstone, albeit with a slightly different specification.
Jax Monchaux confirmed this:
“We kept it. Not only did we adapt it to the geometric constraints to avoid sharp edges on the top required in 2023, but it is already resistant to the loads imposed for 2024, although next season, we will most likely have a different roll hoop. However, it can be considered very different from the previous specification”.
Not only in terms of its more rounded layout but also in terms of weight, as Alfa Romeo had to strengthen it substantially, which cost the team its initial advantage from last year in terms of reduced weight, which has been partly recovered thanks to the C43’s new black colour.
The C43 will take to the track in Barcelona this Friday for its shakedown, which all the teams will carry out before the first day of Bahrain testing on February 23rd.
“The shakedown is essential to make sure that everything has been done in the right direction. It’s on February 23rd that you take to the track with a new car, and it’s very important to check the work done, especially on the cooling systems, electronics and so on.
“When we go to Barcelona, it will be a chance to make sure that everything is in order.
“Then, in Bahrain, it will be the first chance with the new Pirellis and to get to know the car. In those three days, the important thing will be to have zero problems and be able to do as many kilometers as possible,” concluded the Swiss team’s Technical Director.
Author: Piergiuseppe Donadoni
Translation: Jaden Diaz-Ndisang