Though plenty of attention has been given to the difficulties at top teams Aston Martin and Ferrari, 2023 has also been a difficult season for Alpine and Otmar Szafnauer.
The French squad set fourth place as the target for this season, explaining during pre-season that cementing their place as ‘best of the rest’ would constitute a successful season.
What team Enstone did not count on, however, was two of its rivals making substantial progress and becoming contenders at the front.
Both Aston Martin and McLaren, who finished behind Alpine last year, have proven that escaping the midfield and reaching the front is achievable in Formula 1.
Considering these outfits have made resurgrencies as customer teams, the stagnation of a manufacturer like Alpine – lasting over seven years – is increasingly difficult to justify.
Despite this, speaking after the departure of Laurent Rossi, Otmar Szafnauer has re-iterrated his commitment to the team’s 100-race plan:
“The project was the Alpine project with the 100-race plan, and I think we are 30-something races into that.
“So we still have some 60 races to go, and that is another three years to go to start winning,” he told motorsport.com.
“It takes time, it has taken everybody time. I know Luca [de Meo] is a man of his word, and he gave me his word on 100 races to start winning.
“Sometimes, you take a half-step backwards to take two steps forward.
“So I have no concern that Luca will be true to his word, and give me the 100 races that are required.”
On the surface level, Alpine is not incorrect to outline a series of steps – largely related to infrastructure – that are necessary to compete with the established top teams.
The issue that many have taken with such an extended timeline for F1 success, further emphasised in recent months, is that rivals with similar resources are making greater improvements.
A sport with the complexity of Formula 1 will almost always offer an excuse – however credible – to justify failure or stagnation.
Therefore, if Alpine has true ambitions to become a big name in the sport, it must prove capable of overcoming certain vulnerabilities and securing results regardless.
Author: Jaden Diaz-Ndisang