Esteban Ocon, Alpine, Bahrain International Circuit, 2024 pre-season test

Alpine “expecting a challenging start to the year” – Famin

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In the round-up: Alpine team principal Bruno Famin expects a “challenging” start to the season after they ended pre-season testing at the bottom of the times.

In brief

Alpine “know where we stand” after “solid” test

Famin was encouraged by Alpine’s reliability during the test but indicated it may take a few races for them to get the best out of their overhauled A524.

“It’s been a solid three-day test for the team where we’ve focused on ourselves and committed to a comprehensive and important test programme,” said Famin. “We have been operationally strong all week and demonstrated great teamwork between both factories and the trackside team, which has been good to see.

“Our reliability has been good and that has enabled us to complete our test plan as expected. Now is the time to work through the data and concentrate on optimising the package we have in our hands ahead of next week’s first grand prix.

“We know where we stand. We are expecting a challenging start to the year as we continue to learn more and more about our A524 to develop it across the season.”

Wilson Fittipaldi does aged 80

Former F1 driver Wilson Fittipaldi – older brother of double world champion Emerson – died on Friday in his native Brazil.

The 80-year-old, who competed in 35 grands prix between 1972 and 1975 with a best finish of fifth in the 1973 German Grand Prix at the Nurburgring, died after falling into a coma from a cardiac arrest on Christmas Day.

Wilson Fittipaldi also ran the Copersucar Fittipaldi F1 team in the late seventies, which his famed brother joined in 1976. Christian Fittipaldi, Wilson’s son, also competed in the world championship for three seasons with Minardi and Footwork.

Chadwick to launch karting series

Williams junior driver and Indy Nxt driver Jamie Chadwick has launched her own all-female karting series in the UK to support participation of girls in motorsport at a grassroots level.

The Jamie Chadwick Series will provide free opportunities for karting for girls over eight-years-old and a dedicated racing series which will begin later this year.

“I actually started in, ‘arrive and drive’ kind of style karting at a pretty low level when I was 12 years old and never really had much of a career roadmap or anything to suggest that there was opportunity beyond that,” Chadwick told Sky.

“I just did it as a hobby, so I was fortunate enough there were opportunities that did come around and I had an older brother that helped the early sort of stages of the next progressions, but without that, I definitely wouldn’t have had the chance to progress. So it’s kind of going back to that level and trying to identify some talent, encourage and mentor the young girls at that level and give them ideally an opportunity then to progress through to the next step of their careers.”

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Comment of the day

Lewis Hamilton said playing as Michael Schumacher on Grand Prix 2 in his youth inspired him to want to race for Ferrari, but Bernasaurus noted a discrepancy:

Sorry to be pedantic, but Grand Prix 2 was based on the ’94 season (I assume Lewis wasn’t in the modding community), and Michael was in the Benetton B194. You could change the names though, so perhaps he did that. But more likely it was GP3.

In actual stuff though, I’m happy for him. It’s certainly an exciting decision. Nobody knows how it will pan out, but I guess regardless it’ll be an experience for him. You only get one life and he’s chosen the slightly riskier or interesting option over seeing out his career with Toto Wolff & Mercedes. F1 at times can seem predictable and repetitive, Lewis to Ferrari is infinitely more interesting than adding yet another race to the calendar or changing sprint formats.

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday to Georgedaviesf1!

Author information

Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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17 comments on “Alpine “expecting a challenging start to the year” – Famin”

  1. It’s designed like a Formula 1 race car, capable of generating the necessary amount of downforce to enable fast track driving, especially round corners and bends.

    I appreciate Bloomberg is writing to the ‘oh look how expensive’ crowd and not the motorsport enthusiasts, but this is something else. Anyway – come on Aston Martin, bring that thing to Le Mans like you said you would! It’ll be fun, and there’s BoP now so no more AMR-One shenanigans.

    “a challenging start to the year”

    That doesn’t sound good. But it can’t be much of a surprise after the big reshuffle mid-season last year that things probably didn’t go entirely smoothly in preparation for this season. Alpine is in such a weird spot as a team. It doesn’t seem like there’s much of a strategy there to make it a winning team, nobody wants their engines, and they’re just… there. It’s actually a bit surprising they haven’t sold it yet.

    1. “Fast track driving.” What a ridiculous sentence even for that type of article as you said.

    2. It’s actually a bit surprising they haven’t sold it yet.

      So, a few little twists and Andretti join the grid with a Renault PU ?

    3. MichaelN, whilst Aston Martin have said they are looking at developing a version of the car for sportscar racing, it will depend on the team getting a redesigned version of the chassis homologated to meet the crash test requirements imposed by the WEC for the Hypercar class.

      It also shows why the belief that cars like the Valkyrie would be what the Hypercar class would be based on were rather wide of the mark. Basically, the ACO did weigh up the idea, but concluded quite early on that cars like the Valkyrie couldn’t meet the required crash protection standards without significant redesign work, and so it was abandoned as a concept quite early on.

      1. Indeed, it’s quite an interesting tale how the original Valkyrie became the AMR Pro, and that in turn is now – apparently – being reshaped into a LMH again, with proper testing due later this year.

        It’s a bit odd though that this car is apparently also well over a tonne in weight, even though it has no hybrid features, which is apparently also something they want to bring to the LMH. That’s going to put them on the backfoot given the obvious benefits of the hybrid system, but I suppose we’ll see how the FIA/ACO handle that hybrid/non-hybrid divide now that more and more cars are entering the class.

  2. 6 times in the last 8 years, circuits have been faulty and unsafe. 4 of those leading to significant damage or a complete accident. That’s a shocking statistic. What a great article.

    “We couldn’t have seen it coming” really is wearing thin. FOM and FIA talking about transparent investigations into the alleged safety of an unknown someone at one team. How about one into this? These are all potentially catastrophic “near-misses” that would be filed on any incident report form.

    Talk about setting examples and sending a message. Blows my mind with how little regard they’re treating these incidents to save face.

    1. Coventry Climax
      24th February 2024, 1:32

      It’s outrageous. I’m outraged, p’d off by such display of amateurism.
      Most people however seem to show a much different sentiment and don’t seem to care all that much – only that it’s good show. Which adds to my fury, actually.

    2. Define unsafe. F1 has become ludicrously safe to the point of insane overkill. The odds of a fan being killed in auto accident on the way to a race are astronomically higher than the odds of an F1 driver being seriously injured let alone killed. I agree that the Vegas drain cover was an unacceptable lapse though.

      1. Did you read the article? I don’t need to define it. If you think it’s safe to have a part of the circuit flying around as a car goes over, that’s your take.

        1. F1’s definition of safe is many, many times stronger than it was a couple of decades ago.
          This wasn’t a part of the track anyway – it was well off the track.

          What’s really changed is how the competitors approach driving on the tracks, as Verstappen noted yesterday.
          These cars are far more brutal on the track and surrounding areas, in large part because the drivers are placing them where cars never went before and were never supposed to go, in addition to the combination of their excessive mass and aero performance.
          They aren’t just putting 800kg of load on the surface, they are putting many times greater force through anything they drive over at speed – especially when turning.
          It’s amazing enough that the tyres are withstanding these forces – but when they cars are working such enormous loads into the surface that it breaks the reinforced concrete that bolts are anchored into, there are bound to issues such as these.
          This is obviously the main reason why the actual track surface has none of this furniture attached to it.

          Demanding tracks upgrade to even more excessively engineered fixing solutions is somewhat counterproductive (and expensive) when it would be much better for everyone if they simply made the cars less abusive to the track and further ‘encouraged’ the drivers to actually stay on it at all times.
          Excessive downforce and vertical loads are the culprit – not the tracks.

      2. Coventry Climax
        24th February 2024, 9:45

        Nick T.:
        The definition of ‘safe’ lies with the FiA, who mandate a circuit to fullfill their requirements, with one of the aspects being safety.

        Sure as you can be the FiA’s wording of their rules or requirements is vague, you can equally be sure that calling it ‘unsafe’ when parts of a circuit potentially fly round and hit cars, drivers or bystanders, is ‘within the spirit of the rules’.

  3. Unsurprisingly since they never improve enough to join the top mix.

  4. I played GP2 a lot, too, usually as Schumacher. It was released in 1996, when Schumacher was driving for Ferrari. It seemed a crazy move to me at the time and he would miss out on four world championships. Ross Brawn was sure the 1996 Benetton was a championship winning car in Schumacher’s hands, so instead of being a three-time champion he went to a team that seemed hopeless. This is the inspiring thing about Schumacher. He did something Prost and most top drivers would not do – go to a team that seemed useless just based on potential. Prost and Fangio held the records for most wins and most championships at this time. Ferrari was a disaster for Prost, and they did not develop the car significantly since the 1989 one. Still, he would have won in 1990 were it not for an action that was confirmed as cheating. Fangio switched teams mid season to try and always be in the best team. He was the best, but he knew that even the best needed, and could get, a competitive car. Perhaps the greatest effect of the Ferrari experience has been reducing the number of championships both Prost and Schumacher would have won? It lead to three (championship) winless years for Prost, one of which he didn’t have a drive for due to his firing by Ferrari.

    I played GP2 in ’96, ’97, ’98, and probably beyond. I played as Schumacher while watching him valiantly battle against the reality of what seemed like an unstoppable car in something that was often more than a little deficient. 1997 was particularly remarkable. He came so close, even though he was disqualified for a similar action to Senna (although Senna’s was clearly pre-meditated and he remains the hero and Schumacher the villain due to the former’s immense cult of personality).

    Maybe Lewis meant to say something else, but I can see how GP2 could inspire him. I’m not sure anyone can repeat what Schumacher did at Ferrari. He attracted the right people to the team and said the right things to keep people on side. Prost nearly did it, might have achieved a position to better influence the team, but was perhaps too frank to be destined for anything but an eventual ejection, despite the fact that 1990 was an almost-miracle. The Ferrari team was too much in denial shut the car to see what Prost had done. Schumacher’s first comments on the 1995 Ferrari when he tested it were that he thought it was good enough to win the championship. Was this what he honestly thought or just him demonstrating he had what it takes, not as a driver, but as a leader and influencer of men, to succeed in the crazy world of Ferrari? I think Lewis has the potential to succeed in this regard. He will need to reign in frustration and be his more PR-savvy self, while not taking a wait-and-see approach internally if there’s something wrong, as he has done at Mercedes. I greatly admire Prost as a complete driver, but Lewis needs to look more to Schumacher – the man who dedicated his first championship to Senna, even though it was far from a certainty that Senna would have won it (I don’t believe he would have). This is just speculation on my part, but I think there are other examples of Schumacher being far more PR-savvy than someone like Prost. This, plus his immense talent and the unstoppable juggernaut Ferrari became did eventually win many over, in spite of the continued efforts of occasional wandering lunatics who dedicate their lives to the thesis that Schumacher wasn’t actually any good at all. Such folk stalk the land when it comes to Lewis, too. I am not a fan of his, but he is not a Damon Hill or Jacques Villeneuve. His abilities are evident and I am excited to see what he can do. He doesn’t have to win the championship. If he can put it up to the much younger Leclerc he’ll have demonstrated not just his talent, but his staying power against a talented young driver – twice.

    1. The Ferrari team was too much in denial *about* the car to see what Prost had done.

    2. He will need to reign in frustration and be his more PR-savvy self, while not taking a wait-and-see approach internally if there’s something wrong, as he has done at Mercedes.

      He will definitely have to, but it’s something he’s struggled with his entire career. Once he gets frustrated he tends to sulk about. Something to the effect of what he grumbled after the Monaco race in 2021 (?) when asked if there was something to be learned, which went like “For me, no, but the team yes” isn’t going to make him many friends.

      You’re absolutely right to point out the enormous pull Schumacher had on people to want to come work with and for him. Todt’s role in convincing the right people also shouldn’t be discounted; I’m sure Ross Brawn was keen to work with Schumacher in particular, especially after his frustrations about Alesi and Berger ‘wasting’ the potential of the 1996 Benetton. For Rory Byrne though, he seemed pretty convinced on his retirement plan. But whatever convinced him, it was a very inspired idea to bring him back. Pretty much everything he had a major hand in was a good car.

      1. Yes. I’m far from an expert in Lewis. I don’t think he is, or is even that close to being, the greatest. He does have formidable, consistent pace, both in-race and over one lap, and he is maybe the best (bar one) of the current field. I think he is also a better all-round driver than his hero, Senna (or he has it where it counts in race pace and pacing himself). He’ll have to be at his very best if he wants to succeed at Ferrari. I’ll say that even Schumacher would not have succeeded in Ferrari had that critical mass of essential people joined him. Since it was Todt who got Schumacher on board, he probably does deserve much more of the praise. I don’t think he minded it going to Schumacher, though. That’s a sign of a good leader – to be happy to get the results, even if it’s not you who gets the worship.

  5. Good, I’ll be happy to see alpine languish at the back. The way they went about and dropped Ottmar, along with the CEO issuing comments to the media without to much a word to the team, slagging off the whole team, makes this Karma. Shame it’s a shame for Gasly, time for him to look elsewhere. But about right for the incredibly over rated Ocon.

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