Otmar Szafnauer does not believe Alpine has lost significant ground in 2023, although he admits his team must improve its position in the F1 Standings. At the A523 pre-season launch, the Alpine team principal set fourth place as the goal for this season.
With just two rounds left before the summer break, it seems clear this objective will not be reached.
Aston Martin was the first team to upset Alpine’s plans to finish as the ‘best of the rest’, but the resurgent McLaren team have also overtaken the French outfit.
Although McLaren’s points advantage over team Enstone is marginal, substantial improvements to the A523 will be necessary to respond to the recent updates from Woking.
In a campaign where several teams have proven capable of making significant progress in a short time frame, Alpine has largely stagnated.
Amidst these difficult circumstances, Otmar Szafnauer is showing no signs of panic:
“Last year, we were not too dissimilar – except for the fact that Aston was all the way behind the rest of us.
“I have to look after this, but we are closer to Mercedes and Ferrari, [and] we maintained our relative difference to Red Bull,” f1.com quotes Szafnauer as saying.
“But Aston just jumped us and some others. So, it looks like that.
“If I look at the points, we are sixth now, which is not where we want to be. So we need to start scoring points.
“Our upgrades have worked this year, and there is another significant one coming before the break.”
It cannot be said that Alpine has not enjoyed any success in 2023, with Esteban Ocon’s podium finish in Monaco being the obvious stand-out result.
However, the French squad has failed to establish itself as a regular contender at the front – only capable of being an occasional nuisance to the top teams.
McLaren’s outstanding pace from Silverstone should take a moderate dip in Hungary, but hoping for rivals to regress is not a desirable strategy to climb the F1 grid.
Alpine, as mentioned by their team principal, do have some updates to look forward to, which – in theory – can help them become more competitive.
The issue is not so much the sub-optimal development this season, but the more large-scale pattern which continues to persist for the manufacturer team.
Simply put, the longer Alpine fails to establish itself as a contender, the more difficult it will be to have faith in its projects and plans to remedy the situation.
Aston Martin and McLaren have proved that there is no excuse for stagnation, so the pressure on Szafnauer’s team to progress – whether stated explicitly or not – is surely set to increase.
Author: Jaden Diaz-Ndisang