Alpine bringing their first upgrades to F1 Japanese Grand Prix

The biggest question facing Alpine right now is how quickly the team can turn around their challenging start to the 2024 Formula 1 campaign. Development of the A524, their challenger for the 2024 season, came up short and left the team scrambling at the start of the year to try and make up the gap.

“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,” said Team Principal Bruno Famin in Alpine’s post-testing media report. “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.”

The main problem? The car was overweight, something that Alpine needs to address in a hurry.

As the grid heads to Japan for the Japanese Grand Prix, there could be cause for optimism. The team is coming off their best result of the 2024 campaign, although that could be viewed as a relative term. After seeing Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon both start at the back of the field in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, Ocon managed to advance to Q2 in the Australian Grand Prix.

While he would ultimately finish in P16, and Gasly in P13, advancing to Q2 was a step forward for the team. There were other positive signs as well, as both drivers felt a bit more could have been on offer in Melbourne.

“Coming away from the last race in Australia, there were mixed emotions. On one hand there were promising signs with the car showing better performance across the weekend as a whole and being closer to the teams around us,” said Ocon in the team’s preview of the Japanese Grand Prix. “On the other side, it felt like a bit of a missed opportunity as, without the extra pit stop to remove the tear-off from the rear brake duct, we could have been in the mix for points. But that’s racing and if we did not stop, we probably would not have made it to the end of the race.”

“We did what we could in Australia starting seventeenth and finishing thirteenth. At one point we were running in eighth place, hoping for something to happen, in which we could benefit. That’s all we could really do in the race. We have to be patient until we can improve the car as we are too far away from competing for points at this moment,” added Gasly. “I have full trust in the team to keep understanding the package and to unlock some performance to get us back to where we should be in the championship. Everyone is giving their best, we are working in a positive direction to improve things.”

The next step in that progression? Upgrades to the A524. The team is bringing their first set of improvements to Suzuka, but Team Principal Bruno Famin cautions that progress may still come at a slow pace.

Among the planned upgrades, the “first step of weight reduction,” according to Famin.

“We are looking forward to racing at the fast and flowing Suzuka Circuit. In line with our 2024 development plan, we are on schedule to make the first updates to the A524. Although they are not major, it is important for us to add these elements as soon as we can so we can assess the potential and continually improve our understanding of our package,” said Famin in the team’s media preview of the Japanese Grand Prix. “These updates mainly concern a new front wing as well as the first step of weight reduction.”

However, Famin cautions that the progress shown in Melbourne may just be track specific, more than true progress.

“In Australia, we were able to fight closer to the points than in previous rounds. That said, that was likely down to circumstance and track specifics rather than an improvement in performance. And it is still a long way from our objective,” added Famin. “We are motivated to put things right both at our factories and at the track in order to improve our processes and our car. We must fight tooth and nail to better our performance in all areas.”

Alpine, along with the rest of the grid, will get their first cracks at the “fast and flowing Suzuka Circuit” later this week.

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