Alpine’s new target is ‘fourth-fastest team’ after falling to sixth in points

2023 Hungarian Grand Prix

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Alpine has set itself a new goal for the 2023 season as its original target of finishing fourth in the points looks increasingly unrealistic.

The team which finished fourth in the standings last year has run no higher than fifth all season as a result of Aston Martin’s leap forward over the winter. Now McLaren appear to have made a similar step up the order, finishing second and fourth at Silverstone two weeks ago, demoting Alpine to sixth in the standings.

At the beginning of the season Alpine set itself the target of closing the gap to the three top-scoring teams of 2022. But as the competition to finish in the top five places intensifies, the team has reconsidered its goal for the year ahead, team principal Otmar Szafnauer explained.

“We continue to upgrade the car like we planned, we continue down the road of our plans of upgrading the team and putting the tools in place that we need,” he said. “And our goal now is to make sure that even if we don’t end up in fourth at the end, because of the points disparity, that we can be the fourth-fastest team.

“So we’re still working towards that, and working hard, and everybody at Enstone and Viry are putting the effort in and bringing upgrades. And the drivers, one of which has been with us for a while but the other one has gotten used to the team now. So, let’s see what we can do going forward.”

Since the last race Alpine CEO Laurent Rossi has been replaced by Philippe Krief. Prior to that Bruno Famin was promoted to vice president for motorsports. Szafnauer said the changes were focused on the road car side of Alpine’s operation and won’t affect the F1 team’s future plans.

“I’ve been there for about a year and a half now and the plans that I’ve already put in place, we’re going to continue to pursue,” he said. “The infrastructure that we’ve embarked on we’re continuing to pursue and some of the hires that we’re looking for, some like-minded individuals, that’s still happening.

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“Bruno’s been with us for over a year in Viry and also in endurance racing and Dakar and this just adds Formula 1 – although he was part of Formula 1 already. So, it’s not really that big of a change. And then on the corporate side, there’s a new CEO of Alpine Cars, whose focus will be Alpine Cars and not Formula 1.”

Luca de Meo, the CEO of Renault which owns the Alpine brand, said at the team’s launch this year he expects them to “move closer to the top”. Szafnauer is confident those at the top of the operation are satisfied with the progress Alpine are making.

“Everybody wants to do better and win,” he said. “We wanted to be fourth this year and we’re still working hard to make sure that we can be at least the fourth-fastest team by the end of the year.

“As for the Formula 1 team and the new management structure, the new Alpine CEO will not have any input into the Formula 1 bit of it. So that change was made mainly from an Alpine business unit perspective, not from a Formula 1 perspective.”

“I haven’t talked to Luca yet,” he added, “but I will do over the weekend.”

While the likes of Aston Martin and McLaren have made leaps of progress with substantial changes to their cars, Alpine will continue to take a different approach, says Szafnauer.

“We’ve done something similar to last year on the upgrade plans. We don’t bring large packages, but when we do have an upgrade, we bring it as soon as possible. And we’ve had a new front wing recently, a new front of floor that we’ll be running here. We haven’t raced it yet.

“Again, we’ll have a new floor in Spa. So I’m pleased with the upgrades that are coming and the frequency of the upgrades and then we’ll have some further upgrades after the break.”

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2023 Hungarian Grand Prix

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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...

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6 comments on “Alpine’s new target is ‘fourth-fastest team’ after falling to sixth in points”

  1. Alpine has set itself a new goal for the 2023 season as its original target of finishing fourth in the points looks increasingly unrealistic.

    Is this a new managerial aspect working on the A and R in SMART ?
    Or just the usual rolling “target”?

    Can we hope for the former?

    1. notagrumpyfan
      22nd July 2023, 10:56

      I always struggle to differentiate between the meaning of the A and the R.

      But when hearing their new target (“ can be the fourth-fastest team”), I wonder if they threw out the S and the M.
      Fourth-fastest when? In quali, fastest lap, or as race finish? And throwing in a ‘can’ in the objectives makes it open to opinion if it was achieved or not.

      1. And throwing in a ‘can’ in the objectives makes it open to opinion if it was achieved or not.

        I put that “can” down to different grammar non-native vs. native English.

        Alternately, it could be “is actually measurably fourth fastest, and would have finished there, but Gasly and Ocon wrapped the car round each other/a rival/the barrier (delete as appropriate)”
        It’s a realistic aim, but I doubt the achievable when you consider the Renault PU vs. Ferrari, Mercedes and Honda. In PU terms, the Williams is out of position in current standings, watch for steady improvement as the fully funded modernisation has impact.

  2. IfImnotverymuchmistaken
    22nd July 2023, 8:59

    Maybe if they raced with two cars like other teams their goal would be higher, and more achieveable.

  3. I think it would not be unrealistic for this team and brand to evaluate their presence in F1. Especially at a time new parties have shown interest in acquiring a team. I do not feel they will amount to anything and I fear no-one dares to ask the question what in the first place they think they are doing in this racing category. From a spectators point of view its grid places wasted.

    1. Wasted in favour of who, though?

      Renault are one of the biggest names in the history of our sport. They’ve won 13 drivers championships and 14 constructors over nearly 50 years on and off commitment to the sport. Enstone themselves have won 7 of these titles despite starting as a minnow purchased by a clothing company.

      Their recent success has been blighted by COVID – being state owned, the government couldn’t invest £400m in a racing car project in a pandemic. So, obviously, they are struggling to compete with the high rollers of the sport. If we compare them to McLaren, who had similar financial woes, they’ve been significantly ahead for the past number of seasons until this weekend – I’ve never seen anyone question McLaren’s value to the sport.

      The cost cap era is built for teams like Silverstone and Enstone. But the grid is not going to converge overnight; nor are Renault going to sell up with the inflation of the value in each team.

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