Alpine can be a credible contender to finish second in the Constructors’ Championship this year, according to its team boss Otmar Szafnauer.
Ahead of the season getting underway, Alpine set out its expectation for 2023 as being to retain its fourth position in the pecking order while also reducing the overwhelming deficit that existed to the leading three teams last year.
However, the Enstone outfit has endured a disrupted start to the latest campaign, with a triumvirate of penalties denying Esteban Ocon in Bahrain before its two drivers clashed late in Australia to squander a likely strong double points haul.
With Aston Martin’s heavily revised package emerging as a surprise front-running contender, Alpine’s sluggish opening three races have been even more damaging to its chances of securing fourth place in the Championship again.
Nevertheless, Szafnauer is satisfied with the inroads Alpine have made over the winter with its A523 car and is confident that it can maintain a steeper development curve throughout the course of the season to catch the teams ahead.
“We have analysed our competitiveness and have made gains against Ferrari and Mercedes so far,” he explained via Motorsport.com’s Spanish site. “We have lost a bit to Red Bull and hopefully soon we will be able to compete against Aston Martin.”
“So I think we’ve done a decent job over the winter, it could have been better. But we haven’t optimized our package yet.”
“We are aware that our development curve has to be a bit steeper than the others, so that we can make up for those three, four-tenths of a second that we lose.
“We are working hard to make sure that we take a big step forward,” he added.
While Red Bull has won all three races in 2023 to establish itself as the dominant force, the trio of Aston Martin, Ferrari and Mercedes appear to be evenly matched behind them.
With Szafnauer optimistic that Alpine can be the fourth fastest side in F1 this year, the ex-Aston Martin chief contends that the close nature of the competition for second place means the Anglo-French squad should be setting its sights even higher.
“For me, if you’re fighting for fourth this year, you’re also fighting for second,” he reasoned. “It’s all that close, we have to be able to fight with Mercedes, Aston and Ferrari.”
“I think that group of three teams is fighting for second place and if we can get what I said, three-tenths or four-tenths, then we’ll be in that fight as well.”
“That’s our goal, there have only been three races and there are still 20 to go.”
Following its disastrous pointless showing in Melbourne, Alpine is already a substantial 57 points behind Aston Martin in second place.
The Silverstone team has opened its fourth campaign under its current guise with three successive podium finishes courtesy of ex-Alpine driver Fernando Alonso.
Alpine also slipped behind McLaren in the Constructors’ table after Australia, with the Woking entry set to debut an extensive upgrade package in Azerbaijan this weekend.
However, Alpine is also set to debut a bundle of updates in Baku that the team hopes will move it closer to the front of the grid.
Further new parts are expected to be bolted onto the A523 during the coming rounds as Alpine looks set to repeat the regular development cycle it initiated last year.