Otmar Szafnauer has revealed that Alpine have ordered a new state-of-the-art simulator as the team seek to close the gap to Formula 1’s leading teams.
Having impressed in beating McLaren to fourth place in the 2022 Constructors’ Championship, Alpine have been considerably less so in the early months of the new season.
The Enstone-based team currently sit sixth in the standings and level on points with McLaren – who braced themselves for a bruising start to 2023 after missing key development targets over the winter – ahead of this weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix, with Alpine scoring in just three of the first five races.
An encouraging showing in Australia went unrewarded after drivers Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly crashed at the controversial restart, with the team also suffering a horror show in Azerbaijan.
Alpine chief executive Laurent Rossi publicly slated the team in the aftermath of the Baku race, describing the performances as “not acceptable” and occasionally “amateurish.”
Mr Rossi also warned of potential consequences for Szafnauer, claiming “the buck stops” with the team principal.
Having been starved of funds under the previous ownership regime, the team have placed a large emphasis on bringing elements of their infrastructure up to modern standards in the years since French carmaker Renault retook control of the operation in late 2015.
And the latest step, Szafnauer has revealed, is the ordering of a new simulator to replace the team’s current McLaren-built setup, which is close to two decades old.
Yet he has warned that it could take up to two years for the new sim to be fully operational.
He told German publication Auto Motor und Sport: “Each team tries to determine the most important setup parameters in the factory. The others have better simulation tools than we do. Sometimes we’re close, sometimes a little further away.
“But we usually need a little more time on the track until we have found the perfect setup.
“Our current simulator is 15 to 20 years old. It’s an old McLaren model. We ordered a new, modern simulator a month ago.
“But it’s only in one and a half to two years to go. That’s just how long it takes for things to get built.”
Alpine are not the only team to commit to major infrastructure projects, with McLaren committing to the building of a new wind tunnel and simulator at their Woking factory as long ago as 2019.
The long-awaited new tunnel – said to be crucial to the team’s hopes of recapturing their former glories, having been restricted to just one victory in the last 10 years – is expected to finally open for business next month.