From pullrod to pushrod, Alpine save weight worth ‘300 milliseconds of lap time’

Michelle Foster
Alpine A523 2023 F1 car

Alpine A523 2023 F1 car

Taking the covers off the A523, a car Alpine technical director Matt Harman says is a “significant evolution” on its predecessor, the team reckons the new lighter suspension layout could be worth “300 milliseconds” per lap.

Alpine became the final team to officially unveil their 2023 challenger, doing so at a glitzy event in London on Thursday night.

But while that was the official presentation, the car has already done its first laps with Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon in action at Silverstone on Monday.

The new all-French line-up is hoping the new car can move Alpine from a distant fourth in the standings to podium contenders.

Like most of their rivals’ cars, the A523 is an evolution, although one that Harman has billed as a “significant” one, especially as the team has changed from a pullrod to a pushrod design for the rear suspension.

“We’ve been running pullrod for many, many years, but these cars tend towards pushrods,” he explained to the media including PlanetF1.com

“Starting on this year back in 2019 the first concept we had on the rear suspension was for a pushrod, so it definitely lends itself but you just have to understand what the aerodynamics want and where you want to go with that.

“The other benefits, the complexity and the weight and everything else is a benefit but fundamentally it’s all about the aerodynamics.

“We’ve managed to find quite a considerable amount of performance from removing that blockage, so that was the prime benefit really.”

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Weight-saving change worth ‘say 300 milliseconds of lap time’

It’s a weight-saving call, one that Harman reckons could be worth as much as 0.3s.

Last season many of the Formula 1 teams struggled to get their cars down to the minimal weight, Alpine said to be on that list.

But while in years gone by the teams would throw money at the problem, Harman says under the cost cap they’ve had to weigh up each and every change.

“We’ve probably saved ourselves another say 300 milliseconds of lap time from the weight we’ve taken off which is good because for some people they already have that, they’re not overweight,” he said.

“It was very difficult to do that, it took a lot of effort, it took a lot of focus.

“I think traditionally in the past taking weight off the car was about taking a little bit of weight off of everything but you can’t do that under cost cap. You need to focus, you need to pick the areas that are going to yield you the most and go for them and that’s what we did.

“The engineering team did a fantastic job. Very proud of them. When we weigh the car and watch for qualifying in Bahrain, I look forward to telling them how well they’ve done.”

Changes to the nose, sidepods and of course the floor

Other changes include to the nose, which has changed structurally and is flatter, while there’s a deep gully that feeds airflow running down the length of the sidepod.

The floor has also been revised as for this year the FIA mandated the teams raise the floor edges by 15mm while the diffuser throat height has also been lifted.

Harman isn’t worried that Alpine may have been caught out by the late changes, saying they came “just in time for us.

“For us, because of our good correlation and our understanding in the area, we lost performance from doing that, everybody would have lost performance for doing that, but we regained it incredibly quickly.

“So let’s hope we did a better than everybody else.”