When the covers were pulled away from the A523 in February, Alpine set 4th place as their target for 2023. Having finished as the ‘best of the rest’ last year, the goal at Enstone was to consolidate this position and get closer to the front. Unfortunately for the team, far uglier headlines have surrounded them across F1 news outlets this season.
It became very clear during pre-season (and even more so in round one at Bahrain) that Aston Martin had jumped the French team over winter.
Alpine was relegated to fighting to the lower end of points, although Otmar Szafnauer insisted that early-race incidents and collisions had obscured the A523’s true performance.
The situation did not improve as the year continued, with a fantastic podium for Esteban Ocon in Monaco serving as an anomalous result that hasn’t been replicable since.
McLaren soon worsened the situation, introducing updates to the MCL60 that catapulted them from a midfield team to genuine podium contenders.
Within a few race weekends, the Woking-based outfit is comfortably ahead of Alpine in the standings – and on a far more promising trajectory for the rest of 2023 and beyond.
However, Alpine’s technical director Matt Harman insists the team’s goals will not shift:
“We want to be the fourth-fastest team, and I see no reason why we can’t achieve this at the end of the season,” he told AMuS.
Considering their current level of performance, this objective is certainly ambitious. Even without the recent dismissal of Otmar Szafnauer and Alan Permans, Alpine has plenty of areas to address if they are to contend a the front of F1.
Instability, lack of investment and – ultimately – a failure to produce fast enough machinery has been consistent at Enstone for several years.
Whilst a substantial step forward is possible (as evidenced by McLaren), the French squad has given plenty of reasons to be sceptical about their chances of climbing the field.
F1 News surrounding Alpine has seldom been positive in recent years, so it remains to be seen if the situation can be rectified.
Author: Jaden Diaz-Ndisang