Szafnauer has outlined his ambitions for the team to continue its dedication towards the development of new parts in the upcoming races, the objective being an attempt to regain lost ground in the constructors’ championship. Following a commendable run, inclusive of the third place in Monaco, the Alpine team has unfortunately slid down the competition ladder in the last couple of races. Despite the introduction of the new front wing at the British GP revealing promising prospects, the team has found itself struggling.
In the latest race at Silverstone, Alpine‘s blue vehicles found themselves near the tail end of the top 10 season rankings. Esteban Ocon couldn’t finish due to a hydraulic pump breakdown, and Pierre Gasly faced a premature retirement because of suspension issues post-collision. This series of misfortune has pushed the team back, placing sixth in the championship and falling behind McLaren.
The team is showing promise and optimism in the newly introduced front wing. They are hoping the component will further exhibit its potential as more parts join it in the following two events, specifically the anticipated new floor expected to make its debut in Belgium. Szafnauer expressed his anticipation for these upgrades, stating, “Our upgrades have worked this year and there’s another significant one coming before the break…I’m looking forward to our next one”.
Considering opportunities for further upgrades, Szafnauer says there will be more additions in Hungary but on a smaller scale. He emphasized that all these changes are additive, and suggested, “Then there’s a floor in Spa… Putting all that together, I think we should go well.”
With the existence of scope within the cost cap for new parts to be added in the coming months, Szafnauer expressed their limits are not from a financial perspective but rather aerodynamic testing restrictions. He also stressed that the focus needs to remain on the ’23 car, not the ’24 car. He believes in the continuous improvement of the car’s performance, saying, “Me personally, I’m always for upgrading the car as much as we possibly can”.
In considering the significant expense of these upgrades, he advised the importance of continuously experimenting to ascertain the upgrade’s impact. “It’s really hard to predict, unless you’ve gone through those loops. But I’m all for continuing to upgrade,” Szafnauer said.
In contrast to the speculation that the limiting factor could be the funds required for the parts, Szafnauer stated that the actual limiting factor was time-specifically to implement the new parts and to observe the impact over the few concluding races of the season. He also discussed the strategic timing for when to start and stop developing the cars, and the advantage of being faster than competitors in part production.
Szafnauer revealed the turning point when the trade-off begins to take effect is usually during the season break. “So it still might be worth doing a big package for last three races. But say it’s mid-September and add a couple of months to it – then it’s not worth it,” he concluded.