Pierre Gasly, Alpine, Bahrain International Circuit, 2023 pre-season test

Alpine introducing ride height tool and ‘visible upgrade’ at first race

2023 F1 season

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Alpine will have two updates ready for its new A523 in time for the first race of the season next week.

The team which finished fourth in the constructors championship last year is seeking to narrow the gap to the top three teams this year. Technical director Matt Harman said one of the updates it will run in the Bahrain Grand Prix should help it do that.

“There’ll be some visual differences [at] the first race,” he told media including RaceFans in Bahrain today. “We’ve got quite a nice upgrade going on for the first race and hopefully that’ll help with our quest to get closer to that third position, if not being in that position.”

Harman said the team will also have a new tool intended to help it optimise the car’s ride height. Teams can significantly increase the performance of their floors by running their cars as low and stiff as possible, providing they can prevent a recurrence of the porpoising which many experienced last year.

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Alpine’s car was seen porpoising at times during this week’s test, which Harman said was a consequence of the team deliberately running stiff suspension.

“We’ve exercised the envelope,” he said. “I’m sure you’ve seen some of the footage, we’ve run quite stiff. That works in some conditions, we need to exercise that.

“On this track it doesn’t tend towards being very, very stiff, although there are some circuits during the season where we’re going to be able to optimise and capitalise on that, hence the test. But I think we’ve learnt a lot from that. Some of the tools we’ve got, specifically on the rear end of the car, are allowing us to capitalise on that learning. So the gain is important.”

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Another update coming for next weekend will allow Alpine to better optimise their ride height, he said. “The ride height of the car, we all know, is a key performance differentiator. We need to make sure we exercise that as well.

“We’ve got some technology in the car that allows us to run it a little bit lower than maybe we would have done last year so we need to make sure we try that here. We’re going to be trying that for the first time in probably practice for the first race. So it’s been interesting.”

Last year Alpine tended to bring upgrades which were smaller than those of their rivals, but did so more frequently, introducing new parts at almost every race. Harman said they may change that approach this year.

“It may not be at every race because I think as the cars are evolving they’re becoming more integrated and therefore the packages that you need to bring need to be a little bit more widespread.

“But fundamentally, there will be an attempt to try and develop something at every race, even if it’s not bodywork or things that you see visually, but things that you maybe can’t see that will give us lap time. So that’s our intent.

“As we said before, we were quite proud of that last year and we’ve got the same resources, we’ve got the same finances, if not slightly better so it’s just down to us to get through that work, really.”

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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