Szafnauer confirms “significant” upgrades as Alpine hopes to bounce back before the summer break

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Alpine will be looking to end the first half of the season on a high note after the disappointment of the last few races.

The French team initially got off to a solid start, buoyed by regular points finishes. Alpine were even setting their sights on the likes of Mercedes and Ferrari, hoping to catch up to the top four teams.

However, mechanical issues and inconsistent performances have caused Alpine’s campaign to stall, while their closest rivals made a step forward with their upgrade packages.

Photo Credit: BWT Alpine F1 Team

Most recently, Alpine left Silverstone empty-handed after both drivers were forced to retire early (Ocon due to a hydraulics leak, and Gasly after suffering damage in his clash with Stroll.)

Despite the disappointment, Alpine’s team principal, Otmar Szafnauer, insisted the team’s already looking ahead to the upcoming Hungary-Belgium double header.

“Our upgrades have worked this year and there’s another significant one coming before the break,”

“So I hope that too will help, because the swing of relative competitiveness does that kind of stuff. So yeah, I’m looking forward to our next one.

“There’s an upgrade in Hungary but not that big. Then there’s a floor in Spa. So putting all that together, and it’s all additive, I think we should go well.”

Regarding the teams’ swings in performance, Szafnauer added: “It’s not all down to upgrades. It’s upgrades and track-specific stuff as well.”

“I think what happens is these cars themselves, the latitude for upgrades is smaller, we are closer together. Then when you do bring something that’s one or two tenths, it makes a big difference in where you are in the order.”

Alpine are currently sixth in the Constructors’ Championship, and find themselves in a worse position than last year. Szafnauer argued that the optics are exacerbated by Aston Martin’s performance leap.

“Last year we were not too dissimilar, except for the fact that Aston Martin was well behind the rest of us. I’ll have to look after this race but we were closer to Mercedes and Ferrari, and we maintained our relative difference to Red Bull.

“But Aston just jumped us and some others so it looks like that and, if we look at the points table, we’re sixth now, which is not where we want to be. So we need to start scoring some points.”

Asked what he makes of McLaren’s recent performance, Szafnauer told the media, “In the last two races they’ve done well—they’re much more competitive, surprisingly so. They either added…well, I think it’s a combination of things.”

He added that he’s not surprised that Williams are starting to improve, as he believes they’ve “always had the potential.”

“I think they’re on that type of trajectory.”

Szafnauer went on to say it’s too early to definitively state how Alpine currently compares to McLaren.

“It’s hard to know. Ask me that after Hungary. Because these circuits are different. It looks like they’ve made a step [forward]. We’ll go back and analyse it and see. Another data point and we’ll know.”

Asked how the close challenge from other teams will impact Alpine’s development plans for 2024, Szafnauer replied: “Me personally, I’m always for upgrading the car as much as we possibly can.

“It will come down to ‘what do we get out of that last upgrade? How much performance can we put on it?’

“And that you can’t answer until you’ve gone through both the CFD and the aero process over and over and over to do the experiments to see what you find. And then determine, when you know, when those upgrades are coming.

“So it’s really hard to predict, unless you’ve gone through those loops. But I’m all for continuing to upgrade.”

Szafnauer also spoke about how Alpine is preparing for the coming season.

“The targets are set. The architectural changes that we’re employing we’ve discussed and debated. We’ve done some work in the [wind] tunnel on them. So we already have a plan for next year.”

“There’s budget left,” he confirmed.