Alpine’s F1 engine only ‘a tenth’ behind rivals

Renault-owned Alpine has played down reports that becoming a Formula 1 frontrunner before 2026 will be impossible due to the current power unit.

Some believe the current development ‘freeze’ until the new engine rules come into force in 2026, allied with Fernando Alonso’s complaints this year about reliability, mean that fourth in the championship is about the maximum.

“First we have to make sure problems don’t recur,” engine boss Bruno Famin told Auto Motor und Sport. “Then we will mostly shift to development of the 2026 engine.

“We’ve already been working on it for a few months.”

He says Renault wasn’t directly to blame for all of the reliability troubles this year.

“We also had problems with parts from suppliers,” said Famin. “But that doesn’t matter. We have a responsibility to check everything and make sure that the engine is reliable.”

He says there are no regrets that the focus prior to 2022 was on improving performance before the freeze came into full effect.

“We took a lot of risks,” said Famin. “We tried to get the engine as light as possible.”

The result was a definite performance improvement in 2022, with the horsepower deficit to Ferrari, Mercedes and Honda down to a manageable level.

“The engine costs us a tenth,” Alpine CEO Laurent Rossi insists. “A maximum of two.”

Famin adds: “There’s no real scope for squeezing out more power within the regulations. But we can improve the packaging so that Enstone can improve the aerodynamics.

“And there is often an increase in performance behind an improvement with reliability. If you strengthen the piston rings, for example, you can push the knock limit.”

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