Alpine will head to Bahrain with an A524 “completely new from front to back”, which carries an “awful lot of potential to extract”.
On the face of it, Alpine has the ingredients needed to challenge at the front of the Formula 1 grid, serving as Renault’s works team with exclusive use of their power unit.
Progress has been hard to find though in recent times, the team dropping to P6 in the 2023 Constructors’ Championship in a year which saw the exits of various senior staff members, including team principal Otmar Szafnauer, sporting director Alan Permane and chief technical officer Pat Fry.
Alpine look to tap into fresh potential with A524
One of the few to remain is technical director Matt Harman, who confirmed that the A524 is “completely new from front to back” after Alpine hit the performance ceiling with its predecessor.
Broadening the working window and creating a challenger more adaptable to the 24 circuits of the record-breaking F1 2024 calendar served as key goals, which Alpine chased in an “aggressive” manner.
“There are many big changes on the A524, our challenger for the 2024 season,” Harman began.
“We maxed out the potential on the A523 and so the A524 is completely new from front to back. We rigorously analysed the key aerodynamic concepts that we wanted to move towards on this car to explore more aerodynamic freedom and better unlock these concepts to their full potential.
“We found with the A523 that it was operating within a very narrow window. This was a weakness as it meant we were limited on what we could exploit with the car and there were very specific characteristics on where it thrived and where it did not.
“Therefore, for the A524, we aim to broaden this window as much as we can to give ourselves a better opportunity of maximising its potential.
“We have completely redesigned the chassis, we have a new rear suspension system, optimised the front suspension and integrated a new heat rejection system to give us capacity to operate more efficiently at each event.
“In addition, we have completed a lot of work on our brake system, in particular on the thermal management of the brakes as there is performance to extract from transmitting heat through the system.
“Of course, the floor is a big performance differentiator on these cars and we have opted for an aggressive approach on development in that area to cover a lot of different concepts and really express ourselves. We have also changed the front wing and nose to manage airflow at the front of the car.
“By applying these changes, we are giving ourselves much wider scope to add performance across the next two seasons even if there has been some compromise on reaching certain targets, which we have pushed to the limit. We must keep pushing this dynamic development across all areas of the team.
“The A524 approach has been aggressive but deliberate in the fact we are creating a wider scope to add performance to the car. We have really focused on learning and reacting to what we have learnt rather than on results. The project has been bold where we have focused on realising concepts, which we aim to add to the car.
“We’ve built ourselves a strong platform to add performance when we can and we have set ourselves targets to deliver those. We have pushed some elements to the limit and, in some cases, beyond that. That is all in line with our approach and exactly what we have set out to achieve in progressing this project to the best possible level.”
Of course, the effectiveness of Alpine’s “aggressive” approach will only begin to come clear once the A524 hits the track for Bahrain pre-season testing, with the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix taking place the following weekend on March 2.
However, Harman warned that the A524 seen in Bahrain will only have scratched the surface of performance which is to come.
“We’ve taken a very aggressive approach,” he said at the A524 launch event. “I think we’ll see where we are when we go to the Bahrain test, but we will be relentlessly upgrading this car and we have an awful lot of potential to extract.
“We’ve not anywhere near achieved all of it just yet, so I look forward to it.”
Following their first season as team-mates in 2023, Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly continue to form the Alpine driver line-up for F1 2024.