Alpine fall behind McLaren, new floor scheduled for Belgium

Pierre Gasly (FRA) Alpine F1 Team A523 and Esteban Ocon (FRA) Alpine F1 Team A523. 07.07.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 11, British Grand Prix, Silverstone, England, Practice Day. -, EMail: © Copyright: Batchelor / XPB Images

The British Grand Prix was certainly a difficult one for Alpine. The French team arrived at Silverstone with a new, completely redesigned front wing, somewhat following the trend of the last few weeks of development by the other teams. 

Plenty of teams have taken inspiration from some of the components from Enstone, but Alpine still continues on its own path, which hasn’t produced great results so far.

Laurent Rossi was very critical on his team when the season began, only to continue to lose ground to the top teams, with McLaren now surpassing the A523 with mid-season development.

Double-DNF in Silverstone, Gasly enraged

Reliability problems are increasingly rare in F1 today, but they still present themselves occasionally. In Silverstone, we saw Kevin Magnussen retire due to a failure with his Ferrari power unit – and Alpine also had issues that contributed to its poor results.

Esteban Ocon’s GP did not last long (9 laps) before retiring from a hydraulic problem. It is not the first time Alpine has proven itself to be weak in this area, prone to failures of its “secondary” components.

There were also problems for Pierre Gasly, who suffered a broken rear suspension on lap 45. The Frenchman was fighting with Carlos Sainz and then Lance Stroll before making contact.

“It’s a shame because it seemed that nothing went right for us, starting with the Safety Car,” Gasly stopped on lap 31 while he was fifth behind Alonso. He left the pits in eleventh and stayed there since on the following lap, taking advantage of the SC; all those ahead of him sustained their halt, wasting much less time.

However, the main complaint of the Frenchman concerns, once again, the inconsistency and lack of coherence of the judgments of the race direction:

“Lance went off the track (due to overtaking), and the FIA ​​had said that if this happened, the driver would have to return the position.”

Gasly admitted he was aggressive but believes Lance had a chance to have at least one wheel on the track. The theme then returned to Austria’s countless penalties for Track limits, as well as an episode of F2 with Martines (Academy Alpine) penalized for having gone beyond the limits of the track to complete an overtaking.

According to the Frenchman, this influenced what happened a few laps later. After an initial crossing in Stowe, the former AlphaTauri crossed paths with the Canadian as he approached The Club. However, seeing the Aston Martin driver go (again) off the track, returning violently and ending up in contact, damaging thus his own car and forcing him to retire.

A double zero that goes hand in hand with that of Australia, where it was the same two Alpine riders who caught up on the restart and put themselves out of action.

Aggressive development program, but rivals keep increasing the gap to Alpine

Alpine is continuing its important development program, which has seen it as one of the most active teams on this front.

However, quantity is not often accompanied by quality, and there was hardly any leap in performance over the winter, and for the moment, it is not even manifesting itself during the season. 

The French team started the season with a delay of around 1.1 seconds, which increased on tracks where there were many high-speed stretches (Jeddah, second race of the season, the gap increased to 1.7).

Around the Australian GP, it seemed that the gap had shortened (0.3 tenths), but the nature of this race (where most drivers were conserving tyres) made Alpine seem more competitive than they really were.

Until returning to 1.5 seconds in the Silverstone GP. There is still a lot of work to do at Enstone as even the fifth position in the constructors’ world championship is lost today, and the goal was to cement fourth place and reduce the gap to the top teams.

A new front wing made its debut at Silverstone, redesigned in the main plane and in the four elements that make up the wing in the outermost area

The gap between the spoilers is significantly reduced in the arched area towards the endplate for a more powerful outwash effect. At the same time, the upper flap has been revised, with a longer and more loaded adjustable element rope than the previous version.

The road is also taken by the other houses, trying to lower – as far as possible – the main plane towards the ground. Unlike, for example, Mercedes and Aston Martin, the nose of the Alpine is slightly shorter while still resting on all wing elements. 

Ferrari, Red Bull and McLaren – just to name a few – have the main plane separated from the nose, forming a spoon in the central area to “collect” the airflow. Alpine remains somewhere in between these two philosophies.

New front wing fitted to Gasly’s Alpine in the Silverstone pit lane

At Silverstone, the result was also disappointing from an overall performance point of view.

Red Bull, McLarenFerrari and Mercedes were clearly ahead, but even a struggling Aston Martin was unbeatable. Pierre Gasly was for most of his race behind Fernando Alonso, never being able to attack him. 

The team has made a choice to have a more loaded set-up to mitigate the suffering in the high-speed corners, a weak point of the Alpine. 

This, however, despite a slight improvement in cornering, was not at the level of its competitors, however losing a lot of top speed, so much so that he was unable to attack Alonso, who instead had a lighter Aston.

“The updates are working as we expected, and we will still have something in the next race,” revealed Team Principal Otmar Szafnauer, on whom pressure is mounting after McLaren’s latest progress.

“We will have something in Hungary, but at SPA, we will have a new fund which, combined with the latest news, we hope will help us.”

At Enstone, there is a need to react because the gap to the top Teams is not decreasing, and the teams ahead of Alpine are instead increasing, and this would only lead to yet another revolution.

Author: Paolo D’Alessandro
Rosario Giuliana

Translation: Jaden Diaz-Ndisang