Pierre Gasly is confident that Alpine can make strong progress with the A523, citing the team’s mid-season development from 2022 as a reason to be optimistic.
Alpine certainly performed better than most teams in last year’s development race, establishing themselves at the front of the midfield.
Reliability largely prevented the Enstone team from taking 4th in the standings more comfortably, with a series of retirements helping McLaren stay within touching distance.
In any case, unlike other teams such as Haas or Alfa Romeo, Alpine was able to sustain its competitiveness and build upon it throughout the season.
Whilst this is no doubt a positive, it is generally expected that an engine manufacturer should out-develop customer teams with lesser resources.
Alpine’s sights should be set on fighting the front-runners, and the team is currently falling well short of achieving this goal.
The A523 is by no means an uncompetitive machine, with Gasly’s pace at the Australian GP, in particular, serving as an encouraging sign.
However, the progress made by Aston Martin over the winter has somewhat exposed the lack of progress at Enstone – especially given their “100-race plan” to fight at the front.
Speaking to the media, Pierre Gasly has expressed his confidence that Alpine can make the progress necessary to fight further at the front:
“Yeah, I’m confident. I think the team definitely showed last year they were probably the best team in terms of development throughout the year.
“So there’s a good understanding and correlation between the upgrades they’re bringing on the racetrack.
“So it’s just a matter of time until we see new parts coming on the car.
“And obviously, there is also this part of [having a better] understanding between the team and myself, really understanding what I need out of a race car to extract the maximum of it.”
Despite the double DNF that ruined a strong points haul in Australia, there are still plenty of race weekends for the team to make up for this.
Alpine is still the 5th-fastest team so far in 2023, although the impact of McLaren’s heavily-anticipated Baku upgrade package could put this in jeopardy.
In any case, Alpine remains at the front of the midfield and has the necessary resources to take a step forward.
The French team has all the resources necessary to climb the field, with additional wind tunnel time serving as another reason to gain time on the front pack.
Alpine’s failure to capitalise on the struggles at Mercedes and Ferrari is somewhat disappointing, so there is certainly pressure on the team to demonstrate they are to be taken seriously at the front.
Esteban Ocon has mentioned that it is essential for the team to aspire for an Aston-like jump this year, or else the team’s ambitious goals risk becoming little more than mouthpieces.
A substantial number of updates are scheduled for the upcoming Grand Prix, which will be the first indication of Alpine’s potential for mid-season development in 2023.
The crash between Gasly and Ocon will make producing additional spare parts and updates something of a headache, so this small blow is worth noting.
However, this will only slightly delay – if at all – Alpine’s updates, so the upcoming Grand Prix will still provide a good indication of the lap time being unlocked in the wind tunnel.
Alpine has previously described the budget cap as fitting the team “like a glove”, and several team personnel have expressed their satisfaction with wind tunnel correlation.
Therefore, as an intense sequence of races lies ahead, there will be no excuses if the gap to the front-runners is not reduced.