Alpine aim for greater efficiency and engine-aero balance in 2024

Jaden Diaz
18 Dec, 2023

Alpine was one of the biggest disappointments in the 2023 F1 season, finishing just sixth in the Constructors’ World Championship. After finishing 4th in 2022, they were convincingly overtaken by McLaren and Aston Martin. Alpine also experienced several management changes, which is increasingly common within the French team.

Their former Team Principal, Otmar Szafnauer, was fired on Friday during the Spa GP weekend with sporting director Alan Permane. However, fresher news, which has been in the air for several weeks now, is the farewell of Davide Brivio.

Having joined the team in 2021, the Italian manager was never fully integrated into Alpine’s convoluted managerial organisation chart. He first held the role of Racing Director before becoming Director of Racing Expansion Projects, also managing the youth program.

In the meantime, a group of investors have completed the acquisition of 24% of Alpine Racing Ltd for 200 million euros. This has been led by Otro Capital, alongside RedBird Capital Partners and Maximum Effort Investments.

This values ​​Alpine Racing Ltd at around $900 million, allowing the team to develop its Formula 1 image globally across media, sponsorship, ticketing, hospitality, commercial rights management, licensing and merchandising. Alec Scheiner, co-founder and partner of Otro Capital, has joined the board of directors of Alpine Racing Ltd.

Alpine A523: Aerodynamics limited by the electrical part of the Power Unit and a bulky chassis

Starting from the beginning of the 2022 season, engine development on the endothermic components has been frozen. From September of the same year, the same has been applied for the electrical part. 

This decision was taken mainly to reduce costs,  allowing engine manufacturers to shift their investments to the new 2026 regulations. The French engineer took the most dangerous path in the moment of freezing, revolutionising the layout of their endothermic unit. i

In the event of poor reliability, the team would rely on ”possible, but not infinite, modifications.”

Power Unit

Alpine had over 30 HP to be recovered from the competition, the most important coming from the electrical part of these modern units. The gap was partially closed by early 2022.

However, after the other manufacturers (especially Honda above) brought updated hybrid specifications by September 2022 and improved energy management software, the hap has re-widened slightly.

In this 2023 season, Alpine’s average gap to the best engine was 15 HP, according to a competitor, varying between 12 HP and 18 HP based on the type of track and the aerodynamic compromise used on the A523.

For this reason, Alpine wanted to bring its motoring issue to the agenda of a technical table, referencing a gap between 25 and 30 HP. However, with rivals disputing the deficit being this large, the issue did not result in any changes.

Alpine with the new entrance of the bellies

The A523 was not only limited by the engine part but also by the chassis. The aerodynamicists, as happened even more clearly with the Ferrari SF21, were the most affected by these two macro problems. 

Alpine push for efficiency in 2024

As in the case of Ferrari and Mercedes, there was no chassis revolution at Alpine. Instead, there was important work to make the single-seater more efficient, thanks to a smaller cooling system.

However, it was not enough. Meanwhile, for Ferrari and Mercedes, the chassis remained a limiting factor. According to Alpine Technical Director Matt Harman, this was due to “excessive volume.”

Alpine

Precisely for this reason, the body of the A524 has been largely revised to improve the car’s efficiency. This will reduce drag, giving the team more wiggle room to add load – depending on the demands of the track.

The 2023 Alpine was one of the most unloaded cars on for most of the year, due to the extra drag generated by the chassis. Engine efficiency also played its part.

As a result, less energy was accumulated at the end of straights – creating a wider gap in terms of power, although more so in the race than in qualifying.

It is no coincidence that the A523 was closer to its rivals in qualifying than on Sundays. Their deficit in terms of load and limited electrical performance were limiting factors for the French outfit.

The key phrase for Matt Harman’s 2024 project is ‘efficiency’. Work already began on this area last winter, via a new cooling system. Adjustments were also made mid-season with as many as fifteen specifications (including front wings, rear wings, sidepods and floors) brought to the track.

For many teams, including Alpine, 2024 is seen as a chance to hit the reset button. 

If the A524 reaches its objectives, it would guarantee itself an important advantage in eliminating the balancing act carried out on the previous car. Improvements in electrical recovery could also be important, with this area bringing Ferrari about 1 tenth per lap post-Monza.

Authors: Piergiuseppe Donadoni

Translation: Jaden Diaz-Ndisang

SEGUICI SU

Podcast