Alpine is set to introduce a “significant” upgrade package before Formula 1’s summer break with a new floor due to arrive in time for the Belgian Grand Prix.
The news was confirmed by Alpine Team Principal Otmar Szafnauer, who is determined to see his side recover recent lost ground in the Constructors’ Championship.
Alpine currently sit sixth in the team’s standings with 47 points, 12 points behind McLaren.
Esteban Ocon’s podium finish in Monaco provided a major boost for Alpine’s 2023 ambitions, but recent upgrades introduced by rivals McLaren helped secure a 2-4 result in Silverstone for the British marque, who jumped Alpine in the standings as a result.
Both Alpine cars circulated near the bottom ten during the British Grand Prix with an upgraded front wing that showed little sign of promise for the French team. The day ended with a double retirement for the team with Ocon forced to stop due to a hydraulic pump failure, and Pierre Gasly sustaining damage from a collision with Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll.
Alpine’s aim now is to optimise the modified front wing with more new parts set to arrive in the following weeks, with the most notable development being a new floor set to arrive in Belgium.
“Our upgrades have worked this year and there’s another significant one coming before the break,” Szafnauer said.
“I hope that too will help, because the swing of relative competitiveness does that kind of stuff. So yeah, I’m looking forward to our next one.
“There’s an upgrade in Hungary but not that big. Then there’s a floor in Spa. So putting all that together, and it’s all additive, I think we should go well.”
The cost cap in place means that teams are under added financial pressure when it comes to introducing new components over the course of a campaign.
However, despite the fixed budget in place, Szafnauer believes there is still scope to continue development with its A523 package.
“From a cost cap perspective, we have the headroom,” he continued.
“From an ATR [aerodynamic testing restrictions] perspective, that’s where we have to decide how much compromise there is on the ’24 car versus the ’23 car.
“That will have to be a strategic decision as to what we continue to do. But as we sit here, today, most of our efforts are still on the ’23 car, not on the ’24 car.”
With no rule changes in place for 2024, Szafnauer is keen for Alpine to continue working on its current car to maximise this season and also carry development into next season.
“I’m always for upgrading the car as much as we possibly can. It will come down to what do we get out of that last upgrade? How much performance can we put on it?
“And you can’t answer until you’ve gone through both the CFD and the aero process over and over and over to do the experiments to see what you find. And then determine, when you know, when those upgrades are coming.
“So it’s really hard to predict, unless you’ve gone through those loops. But I’m all for continuing to upgrade.”
The limitation for Alpine is not one involving budgetary constraints but time as Szafnauer explains: “You run out of at time. There is a finite time between finding a eureka moment in the tunnel, and getting it to the car.
“And so if you say that your last race is end of November, you go eight weeks back from that, and then you have to say, Oh, here’s my eureka moment. I may get it for one race. Is it worth it? That one race, it’s not going to do anything for you.
“It’s not hard to fathom why you stopped developing, because whatever development you find, it’s going to come to the car at Christmas, when you stop racing.
“And then when you go back, there becomes a pretty evident time when you should start developing.
“The quicker you can make those parts, the further out you can push that. So if you’re a week or two better than your competitors at making floors, say it takes you eight weeks instead of 10 weeks, or six weeks and eight weeks, then you can push that out by a couple of weeks. So you might do another a couple iterations.”
With the halfway mark in the 2023 season rapidly approaching, Szafnauer says it won’t be long until each team switches its focus towards next season’s car.
“We usually start looking at it around the break,” he added. “Right now, we’re still on the ’23 car. Coming off the break then you have a look to see.
“So it still might be worth doing a big package for last three races. But say it’s mid-September and add a couple of months to it – then it’s not worth it.”