Alpine sporting director Permane: “We are closer to Ferrari and Mercedes”

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Photo credit: BWT Alpine F1 Team

In recent seasons Alpine and Aston Martin have been close competitors in terms of performance on the track, but also linked by the transfer of team principal Otmar Szafnauer to the Silverstone team and Fernando Alonso’s move in the opposite direction.

The 2023 season has just begun but the AMR23 has already demonstrated its potential, helping Alonso get two third places. On the other hand, the Enstone team seems not to have been able to make a leap forward, struggling to make the step they had hoped to achieve over the winter.

But despite the A523’s current form, the Alpine sporting director Alan Permane believes the team is closer to Ferrari and Mercedes than it was last year.

“It’s not satisfying that we’re not where we want to be in terms of pace,” he said at a post-race media session in Jeddah. “We want to be a bit quicker than that, up fighting those guys.

“I think we are closer to Ferrari and closer to Merc than were last year. I haven’t really had a good analysis of it yet, but I’m sure we’re closer to Ferrari, because at this time last year, they were fighting for wins.

“Obviously, Aston have made a huge leap, and we’re fifth quickest team, which is not where we want to be. Our target was to be closer to third place. That isn’t the case at the moment. Actually, it may be, because if you say Mercedes is the third quickest team, maybe we’re closer to them than we were last year.

“But it’s not good enough. It’s not where we want to be, and I think Aston have caught everyone by surprise by the jump they’ve made.”

Asked where the car is lacking performance, Permane commented: “I suspect it’s a little bit everywhere. The drivers want a little bit of an improvement in braking, they want some better traction.

“There’s not one real area where they’re really complaining about. We need to improve everywhere, I’m sure.”

Although the work that has to be done on the car and Red Bull seeming to be unattainable by all the grid, the sporting director appears confident that the Alpine can improve quicker its own car and get in the fight for podium.

”It does look like no one’s getting close to Red Bull this year, they look like they’ve got a second a lap in hand honestly,” he said.

“It’s frustrating. We just need to keep working hard and bringing the upgrades and putting the downforce on. Keeping on keeping on, and that worked very well for us last year.

“We brought a lot of stuff last year, we’ve got good correlation. So we can be very confident that parts and upgrades we bring will work the car, we just need to improve it at a faster rate than the others do.”