Alpine’s stark admission despite ‘understanding’ Red Bull design

Michelle Foster
The Alpine logo during the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Alpine could have a part to play in F1's musical chairs.

Although Alpine think they understand the philosophy behind Red Bull’s championship-winning ground-effect aerodynamic cars, technical director Matt Harman says they won’t copy it.

Despite showing signs of promise during the 2022 season, the first campaign under Formula 1’s latest batch of technical regulations, Alpine faltered last season.

The team managed just two Grand Prix podiums, one apiece for Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly, on their way to a disappointing P6 in the Constructors’ Championship.

‘If we just follow those people, we will never be in front of them’

Scoring roughly a third of McLaren’s points, despite the Woking team having been their closest competition the previous season, Alpine admit they have a lot of work to do ahead of the 2024 campaign.

They, however, have ruled out following McLaren and others by heading down the Red Bull design philosophy.

That is simply because tech director Harman doesn’t believe they can beat Red Bull by copying them.

“We think we understand what they’re doing,” he said but added: “You can’t click your fingers and just imagine it overnight.

“We understand our direction. But I think we’ve also understood some of the other cars on the grid as well.

“There are some other great cars there as well that have got some really interesting developments. And it’s about trying to understand what you’re doing, what they’re doing.

“In the end, if we just follow those people, we will never be in front of them. I think it’s a real mantra for us that we need to be inspired by these people, but we need to follow our own way.”

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But as Alpine go their route, Red Bull team boss Christian Horner, having wrapped up the 1-2 in the Drivers’ Championship to go along with Red Bull’s Constructors’ victory, believes Formula 1 will see more designs converging in 2024.

The third year in F1’s ground-effect aerodynamic era, the Briton believes more teams will head down the Red Bull route this season.

“With stability in the rules, there will always be convergence. If you want close racing, just leave the rules alone and you will always find the teams will converge, the cars will converge,” he told ESPN.

“And so I totally expect next year to be a whole different kettle of fish to this year.”

He added: “You can see the DNA of our cars sprinkling around the field now.

“And of course, there will be convergence. You can’t look at a car like what we’ve produced and think that everyone is going to go a different path next year.

“I mean, if you look at the suspension layout on the McLaren, some of the principles on some of the other cars, you see the influences that the RB18 and 19 have had, and one could only imagine that’s only going to converge more in 2024.”

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