Denied engine parity with their rivals, Alpine team boss Bruno Famin says that was just one issue the team faced in 2023’s “conflict” with the A523.
Despite pre-season predictions of being in the fight for fourth place in the standings, Alpine finished this past season a distant sixth, 160 points behind fifth-placed Aston Martin.
It emerged during the championship that the A523’s Renault power unit was lacking compared to its rivals, a “notable performance gap” as the FIA put it but Renault were denied their push for engine equality.
‘Faced with the conflict between engine performance and aerodynamics’
That, though, was only one issue in a season in which Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon struggled to score big points.
“We are also faced with the conflict between engine performance and aerodynamics,” Famin told Auto Motor und Sport. “The more power we gave the engine, the worse it became for the aerodynamics.
“We recuperate less energy than the competition and therefore produce less electrical power.”
He is, however, hoping Alpine can come up with a solution themselves.
Although Alpine initially believed they had reached a “good faith agreement” with the FIA and their rival engine manufacturers regarding a solution, the French company dropped their proposal with Famin citing at the time the “positions held by the FIA and other power unit manufacturers“.
Today he believes Alpine can at least work on finding a better way forward to resolve the chassis/engine conflict.
“We can improve the energy management software. That won’t give us more horsepower, but it will give us better driving characteristics,” he said.
But, added technical director Matt Harman, “the engine performance is not the only reason why we were so bad.”
Struggling to replicated the results from the windtunnel on the track, Alpine brought just three notable upgrades during the season.
Harman added: “We often achieved good downforce at the top, but unfortunately we couldn’t use it on the track.
“We gained ground at the start of the season compared to last year, but were then overtaken aerodynamically by the competition as the season progressed.
“Our car only produces good downforce when we drive it as low and hard as possible.
“We could not find a vehicle set-up that compensates for these deficits.”
He is hoping the new floor Alpine will run at the start of the 2024 season will help them make gains, but in order for the floor to work, Alpine need to shave off some of their chassis’ bulk.
“Our chassis has too much volume. We already had another upgrade to the underbody on the table but to take full advantage of it, we would have needed a different chassis.
“These cars are highly complex. You think you’ve made progress, and at the next race you fall back on your feet. Because progress only exists on paper, it’s not drivable.
“On good days we were able to keep up with Mercedes, on bad days we were in the bottom of the table.”