Alpine team principal Otmar Szafnauer is confident the addition of some upgrades will enable it to take the fight to Mercedes in the coming Formula 1 races.
The Enstone outfit has endured a mixed start to the 2023 season, with penalties hampering Esteban Ocon’s advances in Bahrain before he and team-mate Pierre Gasly got tangled up in a race-ending crash late in the day in Australia.
However, in the one seamless weekend the Anglo-French side has enjoyed both cars came home comfortably inside the points at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, while Gasly was running a strong fifth in Melbourne before the red flag derailed his race.
Alpine is planning to debut an extensive upgrade package at the next round in Azerbaijan – plus further new parts a week later in Miami – and Szafnauer is confident the developments will bring the team nearer to its 2023 target of closing on the top three.
Asked if he is wary of Mercedes’ planned major upgrade for Imola in May taking the German team beyond Alpine’s grasp he said: “No, we think we can fight with them.
“Yeah, we too have a decent-size upgrade coming for Baku and then a little bit more only a week later in Miami, so we continue to push the upgrades out.”
The ex-Aston Martin chief has stressed the importance of ensuring any performance updates Alpine bring correlate to the expected gains it has anticipated back at its Enstone base.
“I mean, the important thing is that they all work when we put them on the car and we have good correlation with our simulation tools,” he added.
“We had good correlation last year and if that continues and if we continue to push the upgrades, we’ll take that development fight over the season to the others around us.”
While most teams predominantly opted to sporadically bring larger batches of upgrades to their respective cars last year, Alpine went in an alternative direction on development.
The former Renault-titled operation elected to introduce smaller updates more consistently to races and it paid dividends as Alpine beat McLaren in a season-long battle to finish fourth.
With a process of evolution the route many sides have gone with its cars in the second year for this regulation cycle, Alpine outlined it was hopeful of retaining the fourth spot it earned last season and reducing the huge deficit to the leading trio.
However, Aston Martin was one such team that chose to overhaul its 2022 package and has since emerged as a surprise podium-scoring force in the early stages of the current season with ex-Alpine racer Fernando Alonso at the wheel.
The clash between Gasly and Ocon proved even more costly for Alpine as McLaren’s double points score at Albert Park – its first points of the year – elevated the Woking side above its midfield rivals.
McLaren is expected to unleash a substantial upgrade kit in Baku as the British squad puts in place its first steps towards addressing the core weaknesses of its struggling MCL60 car.
Although the reliability issues that dented its progress throughout last year haven’t reared their head yet, the various troubles that have plagued Alpine’s early season results in 2023 have left it behind a McLaren package that’s been no match for the A523 in pace terms.