ocon alpine sao paulo grand prix sprint race f1

Alpine: If we follow people, we’ll never be in front of them

ocon alpine sao paulo grand prix sprint race f1

Alpine Technical Director Matt Harman insisted that while inspiration can be drawn from rival teams, copying their solutions does not ensure success.

Alpine spent and ended the 2023 Formula 1 season in no man’s land, finishing sixth in the Constructors’ Championship, way off Aston Martin in fifth and well ahead of Williams in seventh.

It was turbulent season for the French team with major change in its management, CEO Laurent Rossi and Team Principal Otmar Szafnauer fired only days apart, as long serving Sporting Director Alan Permane was also shown the door at Enstone.

Pat Fry also left and joined Williams to head their technical team and was replace from within Alpine by Matt Harman.

Despite all the changes, the major factor for Alpine’s underwhelming 2023 F1 campaign was a slow A523 that was put at the disposal of their French driver pairing made up of Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly.

With the benchmark set by Red Bull’s RB19, a car that won all but one grand prix in 2023, Harman insisted that simply copying it was not the solution for his team to improve, despite understanding how the Red Bull machine generates performance.

Speaking of Red Bull’s RB19, Harman said, quoted by Motorsport.com: “We think we’ve understood it quite well.

“We think we understand what they’re doing. 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,” the Alpine tech boss insisted.

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Harman went on to explain the reason why Alpine could not add performance to their A523 during the 2023 season due to the car’s basic architecture.

He said: “The chassis and what we call the suspension carrier, or the main case, that has given us a few issues in terms of volume.

“Not just for what other cars have in terms of their IP but our own ideas and our own development, it was limiting us a little bit.

“We had a floor update coming for later on in the season, which we decided not to do in the end, and we baked that performance into next year’s car. Just because actually to extract full performance from it, we needed a little bit more volume in there, and we didn’t have it for that car,” Harman revealed.

However, the Alpine engineer insisted not all was wrong with the A523, he pointed out: “I think there’s some really nice things on our car. We’re trying to be humble about these things.

“We know we’re not quite where we want to be, and we’d like to talk about what we need to get better at, not what we think we’re good at.

“I’d rather just focus on what we need to do better to be honest, rather than show off about what we think we might have done well at!” he concluded.