Alpine technical chief says ‘no reason’ team cannot be ‘fourth best’

Sam Cooper
Mercedes' George Russell and Alpine's Esteban Ocon are followed by the Ferrari's of Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc . Britain July 2023

Mercedes' George Russell and Alpine's Esteban Ocon are followed by the Ferrari's of Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc in qualifying . Britain July 2023

Alpine’s technical director has claimed there is “no reason” the team cannot be the fourth fastest team.

Going into the season, the idea of Alpine finishing P4 was not all that absurd. They achieved that goal in 2022 and with three heavyweights above them, it looked a year of consolidation was ahead of them.

And yet, eight months into 2023 and there have been huge changes at the French outfit making that P4 goal now seem fanciful but Alpine believe they can at least be fourth quickest.

Alpine confident P4 is still within reach

Speaking at the launch of the A523 in London earlier this year, Otmar Szafnauer stated the goal was to make P4 their own. The previous year, they had fought off competition from McLaren for that spot while finishing 342 points away from the top three so to consolidate that position seemed like a reasonable target. Now though, Alpine are 134 points away from P4 and without a team principal.

The skies above Spa were not the only sign that trouble was brewing on the Friday before the Belgian Grand Prix as Alpine, rather inexplicably, decided to pull the trigger mere days away from the summer shutdown. Szafnauer lost his job, made to see out the final grand prix of the first half of the season, as did Alan Permane. Separately, Pat Fry was also announced as a new Williams staffer.

One of the few senior figures to have kept his job and not seen his title change is Matt Harman, Alpine’s technical director since last year.

The former Mercedes man believed that even after a stumbling start to the year and major upheaval, being the fourth fastest team was still possible.

“We can’t bring major upgrades to every race,” he told Auto Motor und Sport.

“At the start of the season, we threw a lot of new parts into the fray. Our competitors were later. So we just took a little breather.

“Our third development phase began with the front wing, which was continued in Spa with a new underbody. We hope that this will also have an impact on the results soon.

“We haven’t changed our goals. We want to be the fourth-best team and I see no reason why we shouldn’t be able to do that by the end of the season.” recommends

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Critics may cite the lack of a permanent team principal and an underperforming engine as possible reasons but Harman insists the team will continue to develop this year’s car even after rivals move on to 2024.

“You’ll see upgrades even after the summer break,” he said.

“We started on the new car in week 40 of last year, before the 2023 car had its first race. This is so common in our business today.

“The design process for the A524 is already in full swing. After the summer break, we will sit down and decide when to allocate the bulk of our resources to the coming year.”

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