The Canadian GP was bitter-sweet for Alpine, who brought home some good points with Esteban Ocon – whilst an incident in qualifying that captured F1 news headlines severely compromised Gasly’s weekend.
Pierre Gasly’s weekend was compromised in qualifying when an unaware Carlos Sainz impeded him at the end of Q1. This prevented the Frenchman from improving and hugely complicated his Sunday afternoon.
A cleaner race weekend across the garage for Esteban Ocon saw the 26-year-old claim a fourth consecutive top-10 finish, although a superior strategy at Williams likely cost the Ocon a potential 7th-place result.
In any case, Canada confirmed where the A523 lies in the pecking order; a car capable of troubling the top teams on its best days but still vulnerable to others in the midfield.
Speaking in Montreal, Alpine team principal Otmar Szafnauer expressed his satisfaction with the team’s rate of development in 2023:
“Well, we set out a plan at the beginning of the year, which I talked about continually improving the car, and we’ve stuck to that.
“I think it’s fair to say in order for the upgrades to work, you need good correlation of your simulation tools to reality.
“And it seems like we had that last year, and we continue to have that now. So when we bring upgrades, the drivers can actually feel them.
“You see it in the data, and if the underlying pace of the car gets quicker, as we plan, then it’s a lot easier to score points and get them both in the points.
“When you’re winning, the mood’s great, and when you’re scoring points, it’s not quite as good as when you’re winning, but when you’re not scoring, it’s not as good.
“So getting both of them into the points, getting both of them into Q3 is what we try to do, and when we achieve that, then people are relatively happy.”
As it stands, little has changed since the fiery comments made by Alpine CEO Laurent Rossi at the start of the year. The Alpine boss was frustrated with the team’s failure to make a significant jump to start 2023.
Although the nature of Rossi’s outburst can be questioned – considering only Aston Martin’s resurgence has put Alpine’s target 4th-place target out of reach – the reality is that there is still pressure on the Enstone team.
The remainder of the year will demonstrate how far, if at all, Alpine’s developments can push the A523 up the field.
Early updates in Baku helped the French squad cement itself as the ‘best of the rest’, but the true challenge is whether consistent podium finishes will be attainable in the foreseeable future.
Author: Jaden Diaz-Ndisang