Alpine encouraged by early performance from latest upgrades

Esteban Ocon (FRA) Alpine F1 Team A523 makes a pit stop. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 4, Azerbaijan Grand Prix, Sunday 30th April 2023. Baku City Circuit, Azerbaijan.

Alpine are optimistic their latest upgrades have generated new levels of performance for the A523. Currently sixth in the standings, the French team must position itself to make significant gains over winter.

On paper, the French outfit’s 2023 has been reasonable. Points are regularly on the cards for Alpine, who have occasionally troubled the top teams. Both Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly have finished on the podium – creating several highlights for Team Enstone.

However, looking at things in a wider context, the team is falling way below expectations. Considering their investment and status as an engine manufacturer, there is little excuse for spending years in the midfield.

This point is augmented by the progression at Aston Martin and McLaren over the last twelve months. Largely because of these teams, the “five-year plans” at Enstone have been scrapped. Otmar Szafnauer and Alan Permane were also casualties of Alpine’s new direction.

Speaking after the last Grand Prix in Losail, Interim Team Principal Bruno Famin outlined the team’s weekend:

“We leave Qatar with more points on the board after Esteban’s seventh-place finish. [It was] a very smart, clinical and well-measured drive in challenging conditions…

“We have lots to learn going forward. But in summary, it’s been a positive weekend for the team across all three days.

“We will continue our hard work back at the factories. [We] take as many learnings as we can and look to convert those into a good team result in the Austin Sprint weekend.”

Alpine were among the few teams to bring new parts to Qatar, introducing more upgrades than any other team. These changes weren’t circuit-specific either, instead including a series of performance updates – including floor changes.

Many might overlook these updates as relatively insignificant in the grand scheme of things, but they are critical for the team’s long-term development. The A523 has no obvious weak areas.

Instead, it is a car that loses out to Red Bull in all areas. From aerodynamics to engine output, Alpine is lagging behind the front-runners. Therefore, it will be imperative to prove their concept has the potential to produce a lot more performance in the foreseeable future.

With Ferrari, Mercedes and McLaren anticipated to make big jumps over winter, the French constructor must achieve more than incremental gains. The Losail circuit saw Ocon attain a strong result for Alpine. Still, Enstone and Viry are yet to prove they can fight at the front in F1.

Author: Jaden Diaz-Ndisang