Alpine's Matt Harman says the team would repeat their Formula 1 power unit "risk" in 2022 given the competitive edge it has given them ahead of the '23 season. Power unit suppliers are now banned from bringing performance-focused upgrades to their designs, with them being frozen until the 2026 power unit rule changes. However, manufacturers are allowed to bring reliability upgrades, meaning Renault - who supply Alpine - opted for performance-oriented development path ahead of the 2022 season. While both Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon were presented with a more powerful engine, it also proved unreliable with Alonso expressing his frustration on a number of occasions following costly DNFs. In the end, Alpine finished fourth in the Constructors' Championship, with Technical Director Harman believing that the risk taken to prioritise performance and worry about reliability later has proved correct.
Harman doubles down on Alpine risk
"It has been well publicised," Harman told RacingNews365.com in an exclusive interview of the risk taken to chase performance in 2022. "I'm not responsible for the power unit per se in the operation, I'm responsible for a specification for the engine and I set that not only in its architecture but in its performance. "In the end, we had to make a decision that we thought was right for everybody, that we would push the performance and take the risk on the reliability. "Honestly, if I had my time again, I would make the same decision. "It is massively important in the homologated era that we have the performance that we need and we must have a competitive power unit. "In my mind, we have got one now that is close enough that we can compete [with Mercedes, Ferrari and Honda]."
Hopeful of reliability in 2023
One of the major problems encountered by the team in 2022 was the water pump, with multiple failures putting Alonso out of points scoring positions. The problems almost cost the team the coveted P4 in the Constructors' standings, but they just held on to pip McLaren - and Harman is now hopeful of kicking on during the upcoming season when Pierre Gasly joins to replace Aston Martin-bound Alonso. "Honestly, for the all the difficulties, I'd like to thank Viry (Alpine's engine base in France) for all the work they did in those years [early in the turbo hybrid era] because it was very difficult. "I set the architecture for that engine and they delivered the architecture. "That being said, we have had some reliability concerns and it cost us in the championship, although not ultimately in the final position - it made it much more stressful. "We didn't do it in the style that we'd have liked to have done, but we learned a lot about that particular engine and that new architecture and I'm pretty confident that next year, from looking at all the root causes we've done, we won't be repeating our problems. "We'll be looking to have that performance in reliability and kilowatts."