Despite their ambition at the beginning of the season to maintain the fourth position in the 2023 constructors’ championship and to bridge the gap with Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes, the Enstone team slipped to sixth, being surpassed by McLaren and Aston Martin by the summer hiatus.
In response to the decline, Alpine’s parent company, Renault Group, has initiated plans to appoint a new CEO to replace Laurent Rossi and has mutually agreed upon the departure of team principal Otmar Szafnauer and sporting director Alan Permane. Chief technical officer Pat Fry has also agreed to lead the design team at Williams.
In spite of these tumultuous times, Pierre Gasly jumped from sixth to second place in the rain-altered Saturday sprint race at Spa, while Ocon advanced from 14th to eighth in the full Sunday GP.
This increased performance led Ocon to comment that Alpine had resumed its 2022 trend of successfully implementing upgrades without needing extensive evaluation and correlation of the new parts, unlike some teams.
He commented: “It’s uplifting to see that whenever we introduce an upgrade, the car seems to progress.
“Undeniably, I attribute that [Sunday’s outcome] to Viry and Enstone, as it’s truly uplifting that the enhancements we make trackside significantly improve our performance.”
Alpine introduced a new Spa-specific front wing and made more lasting adjustments to the car’s floor body – including alterations to the forward fences, ‘canoes ramps’ and a smoother diffuser wall cut out to increase downforce – for Spa.
When questioned about the specifics of the car’s improvement, Ocon stated: “The speed we had at the corners’ entrance and especially at medium- to high-speed, considering our downforce was low, was quite striking.
“Clearly, there was considerably more stability and grip in the car. It was very noticeable.”
Reflecting on Alpine’s return to its 2022 pace of successful upgrades, Ocon added: “It’s always been one of our strengths. They just need to occur more regularly, and I think we will be alright.”
Evaluating the team’s performance during the first half of the season, Ocon, the 2021 Hungarian GP victor, argued against the view that Alpine lacked consistency. Instead, he conceded that other teams had outpaced them in development.
He commented: “People will suggest that we lacked consistency, which isn’t the actual scenario because the pace is what it is.
“It’s simply that the other teams have made greater strides midway. We are somewhat catching up with the updates we are bringing, but we no longer rank in the top five.
“We just need to progress further – it’s that straightforward. Keep delivering the updates.”
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Alpine F1 upgrade
What position did the Enstone team fall to in the 2023 constructors’ championship?
The Enstone team, under the name Alpine, fell to sixth place in the 2023 constructors’ championship.
Who did the Renault Group plan to replace amidst the drop in performance?
The Renault Group planned to replace company CEO Laurent Rossi, and also saw the departure of team principal Otmar Szafnauer and sporting director Alan Permane.
What position did Pierre Gasly and Ocon achieve at the Spa race?
Pierre Gasly climbed from sixth to second place in the rain-affected Saturday sprint race at Spa, while Esteban Ocon advanced from 14th to eighth in the full Sunday GP.
What changes were made to the Alpine car for the Spa race?
Alpine developed a new Spa-specification front wing and made more permanent changes to the floor body, which includes revised forward fences, ‘canoes ramps’ and a smoother diffuser wall cut out to boost downforce.
What did Esteban Ocon say about the pace of the Alpine car?
Esteban Ocon commented that the pace they had on the entry of corners, and especially at medium- to high-speed, was quite impressive, attributing this to increased stability and grip in the car.