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Alpine F1 Team

What Alpine need to do to achieve more podiums

Alpine have not regularly challenged for podiums since the Lotus days, but the team are clear on where their ambitions lie for the future.

A523 F1 Launch 2
Article
To news overview © Alpine

Although the 2022 F1 season was branded a success by Alpine after they scraped fourth in the Constructors' Championship ahead of McLaren, it was still a year of unfulfilled potential for Enstone.

The team won their first race under the 'Alpine' guise at the 2021 Hungarian Grand Prix and achieved further podium success at the Qatar Grand Prix, capping off the season in better shape than Ferrari.

It tee'd up what was meant to be a return to the forefront of the grid, with Alpine Chief Executive Officer Laurent Rossi appointing Otmar Szafnauer as Team Principal and former Peugeot Sport boss Bruno Famin leading the power unit effort.

After those appointments Rossi said the F1 team was now "complete" and that 2022 was the year they would "move to a new level." But, in reality, it was much more like their days as the Renault works squad between 2016 and 2020: midfield results coupled with poor power unit reliability.

For the 2023 season, the team unveiled the A523 at a glitzy event in London, in what felt like a statement of intent from the outfit as they brought out the bigwigs and boasted about their ambitions.

"It's great to have the support of Luca [de Meo] and Laurent, not only for all of us that are here, but it's also a statement to everybody at Viry and Enstone that they're serious," says Szafnauer at the A523 launch.

"We've got to improve, we've got to not scrape by in fourth, but be solidly there and closer to third. For us to be able to do that, we've got to develop at a higher rate than every other team."

Article continues below photo.

			© Alpine
	© Alpine

Alpine and Renault points scored in last five seasons

Season Points Position
2022 173 4th
2021 155 5th
2020 181 5th
2019 91 5th
2018 122 4th

Szafnauer: Culture change happening at Alpine

One of the ways in which Alpine are trying to achieve that higher rate of development is through having more multidisciplinary engineers, instead of having specialists in one specific area within the team.

This is one of the benefits of being a works-entity in F1, as it means a considerable number of components can be produced in-house without the need to outsource.

Szafnauer says this approach is creating a culture change within the team, enabling more people to take risks. He believes this has put them in a better position compared to the start of 2022.

"There's a bit of culture change that's happening, having collaboration among team members, having the psychological safety," he explains.

"To be able to take risks and fail, and not be afraid to do that. I think it's changing and there's some people who have recently joined that I know, but it takes time. But I believe [we're] in a better place than we were a year ago."

Prior to joining Alpine, Szafnauer was one of the main figures at Aston Martin, leading the team through its years as Force India and Racing Point at their Silverstone base.

Managing a team through tight budgets during the cost cap era in F1 is experience Szafnauer can draw on, as Alpine emerge as front-running contenders.

He continued: "It's how I did it at Silverstone, it took a long time. At the at the beginning nobody noticed, which was even better.

"Then suddenly we went from ninth to fourth and people thought, 'How the heck did you do this? You don't have any money.'

"But it's amazing what a team of people that have the same goal, that are pulling in the same direction, with the same fire in their belly, the same racing spirit, can actually do."

We set ourselves some aggressive targets and we've met them

- Matt Harman, Alpine Technical Director

Harman: Alpine have set aggressive targets

Alpine finished the 2022 season with 173 points, which was 342 off Mercedes in third place in the Constructors' Championship.

When it is factored in that Daniel Ricciardo also struggled to meet the pace of Lando Norris at McLaren – ultimately costing them points – one could make the argument that fourth was never comfortably achieved by the team.

But, in making changes to this year's car, Technical Director Matt Harman spoke candidly about the "aggressive" targets the team set themselves.

"We set ourselves some aggressive targets and we've met them," Harman told media, including RacingNews365.com.

"I'm confident that others may have done a better job than us, but I think we've done the best job we could with the tools we have right now and that's why as a team we're building for the future."

The A523 has a weight advantage heading into 2023, which enables the team to add new parts quicker without thinking about how it will impact overall performance. Alpine have new parts planned for the first race in Bahrain, which is the first time in the history of the team they have brought day-one upgrades.

"We have an upgrade for first race and that will be very visual, that's a great step for Alpine as a team because to be able to take an upgrade to the first race, it's not something we've been able to do previously. So it just shows the growth of our team, our ability to do that."

At the same time, Harman says the team must be "realistic" about any targets given the large gap to third, but they are aiming to be the ones who capitalise on others' mistakes in races.

"You need to be realistic about targets," Harman explained.

"I think to close up that gap, which was quite a reasonable gap last year, will be a fantastic achievement for us.

"To capitalise on some mistakes or some things from the other teams will be fantastic. But to do that we need to be a bit closer than we were last year."

With the team injecting some renewed life into its driver lineup with Pierre Gasly partnering Esteban Ocon, it seems as though Alpine are keen to right everything that went wrong with their 2022 season in 2023.

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