Szafnauer reveals Alpine upgrade plans ahead of 2024

Szafnauer reveals Alpine upgrade plans ahead of 2024

Alpine will receive at least one more major upgrade this season, but according to Otmar Szafnauer focus will afterwards shift to the timing of the transition to 2024.

Alpine are aiming to rebound strongly after the disappointment of a double retirement at the British Grand Prix last weekend in an effort to save their 2023 season; the Enstone based outfit has only collected 47 points from the first 10 races of the year and has dropped to sixth in the Constructors’ Championship.

A few races earlier, Alpine seemed to be gaining momentum but after other teams made major upgrades, Szafnauer’s team once again lost the battle for the championship.

Szafnauer told reporters at the British Grand Prix weekend that new components would be introduced for the Hungarian and Belgian Grands Prix, with the Spa-Francorchamps round receiving the most extensive changes.

“There’s an upgrade in Hungary, but not that big,” Szafnauer said. “Then there’s one at Spa, where there’s a floor.

“So putting all that together, and it’s all additive, I think we should go well.”

Szafnauer was questioned on if he had ever witnessed such performance discrepancies, with Ferrari, Aston Martin, Mercedes, and now McLaren battling for dominance behind Red Bull.

Szafnauer described his team’s plans for the upcoming few weeks, noting their fragile position in the Constructors’ Championship and their need to make progress to save their season without compromising the development of the 2024 car.

He explained how the team’s course is more heavily influenced by the number of hours available to them under the Aerodynamic Testing Regulations than by the financial limit.

“I think what happens is, these cars themselves, the latitude for upgrades is smaller – we are closer together,” the Alpine team boss explained. “And then, when you do bring something that’s one or two-tenths, it makes a big difference in where you are in the order.”

“From a cost cap perspective, we have the headroom… From an ATR perspective, that’s where we have to decide how much compromise there is on the ’24 car versus the ’23 car.

“And that will have to be a strategic decision as to what we continue to do. But as we sit here, today, most of our efforts are still on the ’23 car, not on the ’24.”

The main barrier according to Szafnauer, comes in production lead times. There comes a point where it makes no sense to continue working on the current car, and that point is rapidly approaching.

It can take weeks to turn an idea or concept into real parts that can be fitted to the car.

“You run out of time. That’s the problem,” he said. “You run out of time – there is a finite time between finding a eureka moment in the tunnel and getting it to the car.

“Say your last race is is November, so go eight weeks back from that. Then you have to say, ‘Oh, here’s my eureka moment, I may get it for one race’. Is it worth it? That one race, it’s not gonna do anything for you.

“So then that eureka moment is two races and say that time period is eight weeks. Before you know it, it’s not hard to fathom why you stop developing because, whatever development you find, it’s going to come to the car at Christmas when you’ve stopped racing.

“There becomes a pretty evident time when you should stop developing.

“The quicker you can make those parts, the further out you can push that,” Szafnauer added. “So if you’re a week or two better than your competitors at making floors, say it takes you eight weeks instead of 10 weeks, then you can push that out by a couple of weeks.

“So you might do another couple of iterations.”

The Alpine team boss indicated that while his team would continue to work on improving their current car’s performance, a decision will be made about when the switchover is scheduled to begin towards the end of the summer break in August.

“We usually start looking at it around the break,” he said. “Right now, we’re still on the 2023 car.

“Coming off the break, then you have a look to see.”

“So the break goes to end of August. Say things take eight weeks because it’s just easy? You have two months… You have September, October and three races in November.”

“So it might be worth doing a big package for the last three races but say it’s mid-September and add a couple of months to it. Then it’s not worth it.”

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