Alpine’s big reveal at Suzuka: Why drivers aren’t celebrating yet

At Suzuka, the Alpine team, despite its association with Renault, is tempering expectations for a major performance uplift following a tumultuous 2023 that saw them with the season’s slowest car for the new season. The unveiling of this year’s initial set of upgrades in Japan has prompted a cautious outlook from their drivers.

“These are small developments,” Esteban Ocon confided to Canal Plus, highlighting that it’s the inaugural attempt this year to introduce new components to the car. “But they’re not major. We shouldn’t expect a change in hierarchy really. But we will be interested to see where exactly the car stands in relation to the others with these new parts and how it behaves.”

A significant hurdle for the 2024 vehicle is its excess weight, with the package tipping the scales at about 10 kilograms over the ideal. “We’ve also taken a little bit of weight off the car,” Ocon noted, optimistic about the incremental benefit. “which is a good thing – it’s free performance. So we’ll see where it takes us, but in any case, it won’t be a revolution.”

Pierre Gasly shares a similar sentiment, indicating that the upgrades were part of a pre-season blueprint rather than a swift countermeasure to their startling beginning to 2024. “It’s nice to have this first upgrade on the car,” he remarked. “But it’s sort of following the development plan that already had in place. We don’t expect it to be major. We know it’s not going to bring us where we want to be, but it’s a first step in the right direction, so definitely looking forward to see what it brings.”

Thus, Gasly is managing expectations about the improvements propelling Alpine from the bottom tier of qualifying in Japan. “I don’t want to give any specific targets,” he stated. “We know it should be a small step of performance on the car, which we obviously need from where we are today. We need more but definitely it’s positive to see that these first upgrades are on the car and more should follow in the next few months.”

GMM

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