Alpine defend taking ‘quite a few risks’ on unreliable 2022 power unit

Henry Valantine
Esteban Ocon Alpine A522 on fire in parc ferme. Brazil November 2022

Alpine power unit boss Bruno Famin has defended the risks the team took in its power unit last season, despite its unreliability problems.

The overall approach came as a result of Alpine CEO Laurent Rossi instructing his team to create a power unit that was as fast as possible, preferring to have a quicker engine that could be made more reliable rather than a slower one that could not have performance added to it in the sport’s performance ‘freeze’.

The F1 power unit regulations stipulate that only reliability improvements are able to be made until the engines are reset again in 2026, meaning there was added pressure at the Alpine-Renault base and the other manufacturers to produce as powerful an engine as possible from the off in 2022.

But unreliability proved to be a defining issue at Alpine last season, with Fernando Alonso believing he lost up to 60 points through the course of the year with retirements through no fault of his own.

But Famin, executive director at the team’s power unit division in Viry-Châtillon in France, has defended the approach that Alpine went with – believing they will be able to iron out their issues come 2023.

“We took quite a few risks, in fact,” Famin said, per the French edition of Motorsport.com. “We took a risk by trying to develop an engine that was as light as possible and not going through the full validation process that we would normally do.

“We really wanted to push it to the very last moment, and sometimes a bit too late because we had problems. But we really wanted to push the development as far as possible.

“I think the strategy was right, even if we had some problems. We had problems in Singapore; two, actually, which were very strange because to have two different problems in eight laps was unbelievable.

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“But all the other problems we had were much more on the auxiliary equipment side: water pump, fuel pump… And we’re quite optimistic that we’ll be able to solve those problems by 2023.”

Alpine will launch the A523 in London on 16 February with Esteban Ocon alongside new team-mate Pierre Gasly in London, and the team have been working on the reliability side of things as permitted back at their power unit base in Viry.

Reliability tweaks may bring added performance with it, but Famin has insisted the main target for now is to maintain the Renault power unit’s level of competitiveness from last season, but without any unwanted hiccups on-track this time around.

“I don’t think we’re going to go backwards on anything,” he said. “We’re going to work and we’re already working in depth on the details, especially on the auxiliary side.

“But the second thing is that we’re pushing our validation process, trying to improve them and do it in the best way possible so that it’s much better than what we did for 2022.

“If we didn’t follow it fully in 2022, it’s not because we didn’t want to. It’s rather because we preferred to push on development. So the goal for 2023 is to keep the same level of performance and make everything reliable.”