Alpine fell well short of their expectations in 2023, which had consequences for its top management.
Team principal Otmar Szafnauer was shown the door at mid-season and sporting director Alan Permane joined him, subsequently taking up a new role at RB. Technical director Pat Fry also chose to take up a new challenge at Williams.
However Alpine had sussed before then that the A523 did not provide a sufficient improvement over its predecessor to compete with the front running teams. That prompted an extensive overhaul for the third car the team has produced for the current, ground effect-focused rules.
“The A523 didn’t quite deliver what we wanted,” technical director Matt Harman admitted at the team’s launch yesterday. “We needed to look at ourselves, we needed to look inwards and understand what we needed to do differently.”
The initial steps were taken late in 2022, when the A523 was already in production. “We started that process, actually originally from concept work back in week 45 of 2022, but more so after the first few races of 2023,” said Harman. “We decided to take a very bold approach.”
The result is “a brand new car from front to back,” said Harman. “I think only the steering wheel survived.
“So we’ve really tried to look at every single area of the car to make sure that we leave no stone unturned, and we give ourselves a car that can have potential through the year. We plateaued a little bit in A523 and I think with this car we have that potential.”
The team took “a very aggressive approach” and hopes to unlock more performance from it quickly once the season begins. “We’ll see where we are when we go to the Bahrain test,” said Harman. “But we’ll be relentlessly upgrading this car and we have an awful lot of potential to extract and we’ve not anywhere near achieved all of it just yet. So I look forward to it.”
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The extent of the changes can be seen in the foremost part of the car, which is distinctively different from the flowing wing design used by the team at the end of last season. Harman says the front wing has “a completely new philosophy,” this year.
“Structurally it’s very challenging, as they always are. But it’s a front wing that will give us a good load, good aero balance, but also a aero balance with speed characteristic, which is very important to us.
“It’s very tricky in here, it has a…