Alpine upgrades working ‘twice as well as expected’ in McLaren fight

Henry Valantine
Alpine driver Esteban Ocon. Suzuka October 2022.

Esteban Ocon drives in the wet in Japan, ahead of Lewis Hamilton. Suzuka October 2022.

Alpine sporting director Alan Permane has said the upgraded floor the team brought to Japan “worked twice as well as expected”, as they took a double points finish at the weekend.

Alpine wrestled back the initiative in the fight for fourth in the Constructors’ Championship against McLaren, with Esteban Ocon’s season-best P4 finish at Suzuka backed up by Fernando Alonso taking seventh.

Having briefly fallen behind McLaren in the Constructors’ standings after a reversal in fortunes in Singapore, Alpine moved 13 points ahead of their rivals – and holding onto that place would be worth millions of dollars in prize money at the end of the season.

The team looked close to the pace of Mercedes all weekend in dry conditions at Suzuka, much to the surprise of George Russell, with Ocon holding Lewis Hamilton off in the wet in the longest-lasting duel of the race on Sunday.

Part of their pace improvement came down to the new floor being fitted, and the team confirmed a further update will be on its way at the next round in Austin.

“The wind tunnel works very, very well,” Permane said, quoted by the Italian edition of

“We are finding a lot of things that work. We had planned an upgrade for Singapore and that worked twice as well as we expected, honestly.

“The version used at Suzuka is the fourth of our floors. In fact in Austin it will be a sort of 4B version, because we have another upgrade. It won’t be as big as the one used at Suzuka.”

Alpine upturn coming at the right time

With Alonso leaving the team at the end of the season and question marks surrounding the relationship of Ocon and the incoming Pierre Gasly – as tantalising a prospect as that may be – now is the perfect time for them to make their mark this season.

Alonso complained over the weekend that another strategy call went against his chances in the wet on Sunday, having shown how quickly he could make his way back through the field in the closing stages on fresh rubber.

With McLaren on the ropes having gradually been reeled in over the second half of the year, seeing off their challenge for P4 in the standings will be their main hurdle to overcome before the end of the season.

With both drivers in form and a car beginning to find its feet even further, the signs coming from Enstone and Viry are positive ones.

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