Alpine’s reliability catching up on ‘aggressive’ powertrain approach

Thomas Maher
Esteban Ocon drives for Alpine in testing. Bahrain February 2023.

Alpine driver Esteban Ocon heads towards Turn 11 during testing. Bahrain February 2023.

After a year of regular power unit-related issues, Otmar Szafnauer is confident Alpine’s engine reliability will be far stronger in 2023.

Alpine lost out on several strong points finishes in 2022 due to engine-related failures with their Renault power unit, with a frustrated Fernando Alonso bearing the brunt of the issues.

A double failure in Singapore, while both Alonso and Esteban Ocon were set for strong points, was arguably the lowest point of Alpine’s season, and briefly looked to threaten the team’s eventual fourth-place finish in the Constructors’ Championship.

Renault’s engine department in Viry-Chatillion identified the water pump as a prime culprit for the problems, leading to a re-design of the part within the engine’s architecture – as permitted under the current regulations, despite the introduction of an engine freeze for 2022 that prevents manufacturers from making performance-related changes.

Renault’s Bruno Famin revealed at the launch of the A523 that the initial signs from dyno testing of the new power unit indicated a marked improvement in reliability – this was further borne out by Alpine’s metronomic track time during pre-season testing last week in Bahrain.

Otmar Szafnauer: Renault had erred on the side of performance

Speaking to media, including, at the conclusion of the three-day test, team boss Otmar Szafnauer detailed how Renault’s approach had been to target performance for the start of the engine freeze and how the winter’s re-design appears to have paid dividends.

“So far so good,” he said, in response to a question from

“We had already an inkling and ability to predict when we did the dyno running over winter so it went much better than the year before. recommends

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“Which is predictable, because it’s the second year. The year before, Viry took a very aggressive stance on powertrain improvement, mainly because the freeze was coming in – which was exactly the right thing to do.

“If they had to err on the side of performance versus reliability, they erred on the side of performance and now that’s catching up. It’s really good.”

Matt Harman: Alpine have pushed the margins everywhere

Technical Director Matt Harman also spoke about the team’s expected reliability for 2023 as he addressed the media after concluding the three-day test.

“Thankfully, for us, there were no fundamental reliability issues,” he said.

“It was just how we go about configuring these new systems as quickly as we can and we’ve got on top of that now.

“We’ve pushed the margins in every area – it was very important that we did that. We needed to find quite a considerable amount of mass to take off the car, which we did. And you only do that by focusing on some good areas, but also trying to make sure you shave it off everywhere that you can.”