2023 Alpine F1: Team principal Otmar Szafnauer | Drivers Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon
With sights firmly set on climbing the ladder in 2023, the Renault-owned team has made some bold moves both on and off the track as they head into the new season.
Alpine are hoping to be “significantly closer” to the elite end of the F1 grid in 2023 as they hope to close in on a “solid fourth” finish in the in constructors’ championship. Of course with some of the giants of the sport ahead of them, they will have their work cut out for them.
Alpine’s Otmar Szafnauer is aiming high
When Renault opted for a rebrand in 2021, many scratched their heads. Yet, it quickly became obvious that the newly named Alpine team weren’t messing around as they finished fifth in their debut 2021 season, collecting a victory in the Hungarian Grand Prix along the way. Indeed, they actually climbed into fourth position in 2022 after a tight duel with McLaren. Here in 2023, it appears the team has set their targets even higher. Of course, given the distance between them and heavyweights like Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes, there is definitely work to be done, but having recently launched the new A523, team principle Otmar Szafnauer is not phased and more importantly is being realistic about the challenges that lie ahead.
“A good year for us is being a lot closer to third,” said Szafnauer – who moved to Alpine from Aston Martin in early 2022. “There was a big gap between fourth and third last year, [so] being significantly closer to the top three and perhaps a little bit further away from fifth. Although we finished fourth, it was a hard-fought year with McLaren – we were only a few points ahead of them by the end. Fourth and fifth were nearly equal on points, and third was a long way away. We want to get significantly closer to third and be a solid fourth this year, and look to move even closer the year after.” Interestingly, Szafnauer went on to explain that within the context of Alpine’s ‘100-race plan,’ as set out by CEO Laurent Rossi in 2021, the team remains on course to meet their long-term goal of challenging for a title.
Introducing Alpine’s new driver Pierre Gasly
One of the interesting aspects about Alpine’s 2023 lineup is the all-French connection they have with Pierre Gasly now joining Esteban Ocon. Of course, the 26-year-old was previously contracted to AlphaTauri for 2023, but was released early when long-time supporters Red Bull agreed to let him go.
“I am delighted to join the Alpine family and begin this new chapter in my Formula 1 career,” said Gasly, a one-time Grand Prix winner. “Driving for a team that has French roots is something very special. I know the strengths of Alpine having raced against them over the past couple of years and, clearly, their progress and ambition is very impressive. I wish to thank Red Bull as this marks the end of our nine-year journey together. It is thanks to their trust and support that I became a Formula 1 driver, and what we’ve achieved with Scuderia AlphaTauri over the last years has been very special. Looking ahead, I want to give the maximum and utilize all my experience to fight for podiums and ultimately contribute to Alpine’s fight for championships in the future.”
What about Esteban Ocon?
Having been with Alpine since 2020, Ocon is no stranger to team and its desired goals. With new teammate, Pierre Gastly, being a childhood friend, you would think that all the pieces to the puzzle are now in place, however, a bitter spat some years ago has meant that in many ways, they are just getting to know each other once again. Yet, that’s something that the 26-year-old doesn’t believe will be a problem.
“I am confident. You guys like the headlines and all these kinds of stories but we are both very professional and we are going to work the way we need to be performing. I don’t think we will ever be best friends but that doesn’t matter really as long as the atmosphere is great inside the team, and that’s how it is at the moment and that’s how it will remain during the year. What’s important is we keep those open conversations we are having at the moment and we will have during the season, because we are not at the point where we can win every race. We need to develop this car and get the maximum conversation flow going to find ideas moving forwards. I am not worried. It is going to be a great collaboration.”
Both men have won a single race in their careers, driving in circumstances where the midfield teams they were representing were afforded the opportunity to lead, Gastly in Italy in 2020 and Ocon in that above mentioned Grand Prix in Hungary back in 2021. Together, they now carry the responsibility of furthering Alpine’s charge to the front of the grid. Needless to say, it will be interesting to watch their progress.
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