Alpine: “I don’t see why we can’t race Ferrari and Mercedes”

Esteban Ocon (FRA) Alpine F1 Team. Australian Grand Prix, Saturday 1st April 2023. Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia.

Alpine’s Technical Director wants the team to build upon Esteban Ocon’s podium finish in Monaco, confident that the A523 is capable of fighting at the front regularly in 2023.

Esteban Ocon secured Alpine’s best result in over a year in the streets of Monte Carlo, finishing in third place by converting a strong qualifying and – more broadly – encouraging weekend for the team.

The Alpine A523 was one of many cars to receive a significant haul of updates last weekend, consistent with the French squad’s strategy of introducing updates regularly over the course of 2023.

Whilst assessing the impact of these specific changes is difficult, the sparks of performance shown in Miami and – to a lesser degree – Australia were validated by Ocon and Gasly’s ability to legitimately contend with the front-runners in Monaco.

Monaco

Monaco’s highly unique characteristics still complicate any attempts to extrapolate the data from this Grand Prix, at least with any certainty.

However, a safe conclusion from last weekend’s action is that Alpine will fluctuate from the ‘best of the rest’ in the midfield to an occasional irritant to the front-runners.

More evidence will be necessary to confidently categorise Alpine as a regular podium contender, at least from the outside perspective.

This hesitancy is not shared by the team’s technical director, though, with Alan Permane already convinced the Enstone team can contend at the front:

“I don’t think this is a Monaco special car. It is just the upgrades we put on for Imola and also for here… the car is working well,” he told the media in Monaco.

“I fully expect to be in front of Mercedes and [competing] with Ferrari at the next race. Max is too far away, and when Checo is on his game, he will be as well.¬†

“Fernando is going to be very difficult, but I don’t see why we can’t race with Ferrari and Mercedes, which we have done [last weekend in Monaco], and we did in Miami as well.”

Alpine has made itself one of the biggest talking points in F1 this season because of its fiery off-track statements, primarily coming from CEO Laurent Rossi.

However, it is clear that team Enstone has no intentions of settling for the midfield and wants to feature at the sharp end of the field on a weekly basis.

Otmar Szafnauer has refused to waver from Alpine’s pre-season target of finishing 2023 in fourth place, and this attitude seems present throughout the team.

It seems premature to celebrate Ocon’s P3 and Gasly’s P7 as the start of things to come, but the A523 is definitely within striking distance of the top teams.

Author: Jaden Diaz-Ndisang