Alpine fall dubbed a result of what happens when you ‘tread water too long’

Henry Valantine
A front view of the Alpine A534.

A front view of the Alpine A524.

Former F1 driver Anthony Davidson explained that the fall of Alpine this season has come as a result of the team completely starting again with their car concept.

This came as a result of the potentially having “treaded water for too long” in the midfield, with McLaren and Aston Martin having surged clear of the Enstone-based team last season.

Alpine have opted to ‘build from the ground up’ this season

Having finished what was a disappointing sixth place in the Constructors’ Championship in 2023, the arrival of the A524 has seen the team drop to last in the competitive order on the early evidence of this season.

They have taken a completely different design tack with the car this time around, the team admitting as much when it was launched, but in explaining this, former BAR driver Davidson said the team may well end up reaching higher highs eventually – but they have fallen backwards as a result of this step, which they took having been among the midfield for such a long period of time.

“We’ve really seen Alpine fall from being at the sharp end of the midfield pack, just teetering on the edge to breaking through to be a consistent thorn in the side of the likes of Ferrari and Mercedes or McLaren, to now very much at the back of the grid,” Davidson explained on the Sky Sports F1 podcast.

“So it just goes to show if you tread water for too long, or if you’ve changed your concept like they have… and the best way to look at it is a bit like if you’re building a skyscraper, and you’re fighting another team of architects and engineers building a skyscraper and you start with a set of foundations that you think are going to be good enough.

“You look over your shoulder and you see a very different set of foundations going on over there. Anyway, regardless, you start building up and you build as high as you can go, and you get to the point where things become a little bit rickety, and you realise that your competition is still going strong, and they’re still feeling the thing’s not moving an inch. recommends

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“What do you do? Do you carry on? Do you re-engineer it and carry on going? ‘If we just do a bit more scaffolding or support structures, we can get a bit higher, but I think they might get right up there, and we’re still kind of midway up, so right, let’s cut our losses, knock the whole thing down, redo the foundations, that’s where it went wrong.’

“And I think that’s what’s going on now with the cost cap, and these complex cars. It’s almost a case, like Alpine have, they’ve just broken up the foundations, they’ve gone ‘You know what? We’re off to a dead end here. Redo everything from the start, build from the ground up.’

“Of course, other people have carried on putting a bit more performance on their car over the winter and, sure enough, you turn up and you’re last. But it might not last that long.

“If you’ve got a good starting base that you believe is better than where you were, then in time, of course, you’ll start to surge forwards and see massive gains every time you get more wind tunnel time, or another update comes to the car.

“You’ll start to see much bigger gains, hopefully for their sake than where they would have been if they just carried on persevering with, perhaps, a bit more of a flawed concept from the start. That’s my simple take on it anyway.”

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