Alpine Chief Executive Laurent Rossi has challenged the team to ensure it establishes a more comfortable grasp on fourth place in the Constructors’ Championship in 2023.
The Anglo-French side achieved their highest finish since 2018 last term by edging out McLaren to be crowned the best midfield side in Formula 1.
However, a string of reliability woes, largely a consequence of pushing the boundaries on the engine performance side, meant their margin of superiority wasn’t as comfortable as it potentially could have been.
Subsequently, at the launch of Alpine’s A523 car, Rossi insisted avoiding the same issues that continuously plagued the team last year will be decisive to continuing its upward momentum.
“It’s important now that we carry on with that trend,” he claimed. “What I really want to see in 2023 is continued progress from the team.
“Finishing fourth again is the minimum target but this time we have to do that with a much firmer grip. By that, I mean with more finishes, less retirements and more points.”
Alpine was caught in a storm away from the track midway through last year when it came to sorting out its driver line-up for the forthcoming campaign.
Fernando Alonso stunned the F1 paddock by finalising an agreement to move to Aston Martin, whilst Oscar Piastri, Alpine’s former reserve driver, elected to switch to McLaren rather than take the vacancy at his then-parent team.
Eventually, it arranged a deal to secure the services of Pierre Gasly from AlphaTauri to form an all-French pairing at the Normandy outfit alongside Esteban Ocon.
Despite concerns being cited over the nature of their strained relationship previously, Rossi believes Alpine’s new driver duo will emerge as one the best on the F1 grid.
“Our driver line-up is certainly a hot topic, not just amongst Formula 1 fans but general sports fans both in and away from France,” Rossi acknowledged.
“For me it’s an exciting pairing, one of the strongest on the grid – which mixes natural talent with experience and ambition.
“Esteban has been with the team for a number of years and has always been consistent and dependable,” he explained. “Pierre meanwhile embarks on a new chapter in his career.
“It will be a fantastic opportunity for them both to work together to drive the team forwards. Teamwork is going to be key to our success and I expect a great level of commitment, maturity and togetherness from everyone at the team in contribution to attaining our goals.”
Ocon, who has a contract to the end of 2024, will embark on his fourth season with the Enstone team since returning to F1 at the start of 2020.
Having taken his first podium at the penultimate round of his comeback year and following that up with his maiden win in Hungary a year later, the Frenchman is targeting a step towards making trips to the rostrum a more frequent occurrence in the future.
“Everything’s possible but as a target itself, it can sound similar to say we want to finish fourth but the gap from fourth to third at the moment is huge – it was about 300 points or something in the Constructors’,” Ocon recognised.
“So if we can be fourth but try and get much closer to third and maybe fight for third, that’s a completely different dimension. You turn top five finishes into podium territories and that’s completely different.
“Obviously it’s a very high target we are setting ourselves, continuing the regulations, but we have to set ourselves that target. We are very ambitious, we are competitors, that’s what we want to achieve. In F1 anything can happen, and we hope there’s going to be surprises.”
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