Despite a solid pre-season goal of retaining fourth place in the 2023 constructors’ championship and closing on the leading pack of Red Bull, Ferrari, and Mercedes, the Enstone-based Alpine outfit has since slipped to sixth place. They lag behind McLaren and Aston Martin as the F1 calendar hits the summer break.
In a significant reshuffle, the team’s owner, Renault Group, has replaced its CEO, Laurent Rossi. The team has also seen several high-ranking members part ways; team principal Otmar Szafnauer and sporting director Alan Permane have departed, and Chief Technical Officer Pat Fry has taken a new role heading Williams‘ design department.
Despite the chaotic scenes off the track, some good news came from the rain-affected race at Spa. Pierre Gasly elevated his standing from sixth to second in the sprint race, while Esteban Ocon leaped from 14th to eighth in the main Grand Prix on Sunday.
The renewed competitiveness didn’t go unnoticed by Ocon. The late-race surge suggested a return to the 2022 pattern of instant gains from updates, whereas other teams often had to await evaluations and correlation of the new parts. “It’s very encouraging that each time we bring an update, the car seems to take a step forward,” said Ocon.
Ocon continued, dedicating the team’s performance at Spa to Viry and Enstone, stating “it’s really encouraging that what we bring to the track really makes us step forward”. A new Spa-specification front wing, along with more permanent modifications to the floor, were among the recent upgrades made to the car, aimed at boosting downforce.
When asked about the team’s performance improvements, Ocon highlighted the pace at the corner entries, particularly in medium to high-speed corners. He called the stability and grip of the car impressive, considering the lower levels of downforce.
Elaborating on the team’s return to its 2022 upgrade success rate, Ocon emphasized the need for more consistent improvements: “It’s always been a strength of ours. They just need to keep [arriving] more consistently, and I think we will be OK.”
Reflecting on the season’s first half, 2021 Hungarian GP winner Ocon refuted accusations of a lack of consistency from Alpine. He conceded that other teams had simply improved more over the course of the year. Expressing the need to catch up, Ocon closed: “We just need to improve more – it’s as simple as that. Keep bringing the updates.”