In a bold response to the challenges faced in the 2023 season, Alpine’s technical director, Matt Harman, has confirmed the development of a “completely new” car for 2024. This decision comes after Alpine’s struggle with performance loss in the previous season, marking a significant shift in their approach to Formula 1 racing.
- Alpine’s Performance Struggles in 2023: The Alpine F1 team, grappling with a slower A523 car, faced significant challenges in the 2023 Constructors’ Championship, which led to their decision to develop a completely new car for the 2024 season.
- Technical Challenges and Insights: Matt Harman, the team’s technical director, acknowledged the difficulties in understanding and optimizing the car’s performance in the initial races of 2023, emphasizing the narrow window for setting up the car effectively.
- A New Direction for 2024: Learning from the experiences with the ground-effect cars, Alpine’s new car for 2024 represents a drastic overhaul, moving away from the less successful designs of the A523, and is expected to bring substantial improvements.
Alpine’s journey in the 2023 Formula 1 season was marked by significant hurdles. The team, which had previously shown promise, found itself lagging behind competitors like McLaren and Aston Martin. Despite podium finishes by drivers Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon in the Netherlands and Monaco, the overall performance of the Alpine car was not up to par, resulting in a lower ranking in the Constructors’ Championship.
The technical challenges were a central theme of the season for Alpine. As Matt Harman explained to Formula1.com, the team struggled with setting up the car effectively due to a narrow performance window. He stated, “We didn’t really get to grips with the car until the second, third, maybe fourth event. That’s quite unlike us. We have a very capable trackside engineering team – in conjunction with the factory, [but] it took us a while to get to grips with that. It’s not because it’s difficult to set up, it’s because the window is so narrow – so you’re having to make compromises. It’s tricky. You go to a circuit where ride is important to the driver – and we can’t put the car there because of the performance loss.”
These challenges led to a pivotal decision for the Alpine team. Recognizing the need for a significant change, Harman highlighted the complete overhaul planned for the 2024 car. He elaborated, “We didn’t do as well as we did on the A522 [2022 car] – we had a great year that year. Every time we touched the development of the car, we put load on, and we took a lot of weight off the car – there was a lot of performance to be had. It’s become trickier. You have to get into more detail so we have to be more careful in how we invest the money. I don’t think this year has been as successful as the A522. That’s why for the following year’s car we have had to unlock some real estate again, which is why the car is completely new from front to back. You’ll see that up and down the grid because the car has to last for a couple of years while we look for the future.”
Alpine’s move to develop a new car for the 2024 season is not just a response to a challenging year, but also a strategic move looking towards the future. With the 2024 season on the horizon, all eyes will be on Alpine to see if this bold strategy pays off.