Alpine’s clever hack to power up in F1’s frozen era

In a bold move to bridge the gap with Formula 1’s leading powerhouses, Alpine is pushing the limits of innovation to extract more horsepower from Renault’s engine in 2024. Despite hitting a regulatory wall last year when their plea for special permission to catch up with the likes of Ferrari, Mercedes, and Honda was rebuffed, the team’s technical brains haven’t been idle. With the current engine development ‘freeze’ putting a damper on their aspirations until the 2026 rule overhaul, Alpine’s technical director, Matt Harman, reveals the team’s clever workaround to enhance engine performance within the constraints.

Harman shared with Auto Motor und Sport the technical nuances of Alpine’s strategy to eke out extra power. By rerouting the exhaust to run straighter between the rear suspension’s pivot points on the gearbox housing, the team has effectively reduced back pressure. This, coupled with a decision not to cool the exhaust, ensures the gases pack more energy, translating to better performance on the track.

But Alpine’s ingenuity doesn’t stop at exhaust tweaks. The team has also reimagined the layout of its power unit components, moving the battery further rearwards for an optimized balance—a critical factor in the high-stakes world of Formula 1 racing. In their relentless pursuit of performance, Alpine’s designers have also managed to shed weight from the total transmission package, a move that Harman notes must be balanced carefully. “Of course you want to stay below the weight limit, but if you save too much, you’re not using the available mass to generate performance,” he cautions.

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