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Formula 1 Chinese GP

Alpine gets F1 spare car for first time in 2024 as lighter chassis appears in China

Alpine will have a spare car as its disposal for the first time this season, as its upgraded and lighter A524 appeared at Formula 1's Chinese Grand Prix.

Pierre Gasly, Alpine A524

The French manufacturer has fast-tracked an upgraded floor for this weekend’s round in Shanghai aimed at bringing more performance after its difficult start to the year. 

It will be used by Esteban Ocon exclusively this time out, before both drivers have it for the next race in Miami.

But interestingly, the revised chassis that the parts are fitted to is not only lighter than the version that the team has used so far, but is also its third monocoque of the year - meaning it will have a spare for the first time.

Alpine’s technical director (performance) Ciaron Pilbeam explained: “This is the first race the third chassis has been here.”

As well as moving forward with aero developments (detailed below), Alpine has also been chipping away with the weight of its car, with it being over the minimum weight limit at the start of the year.

Although the squad was not yet in a place it wanted to be, Pilbeam reckoned that it would not take long before it hits its target, as he confirmed the upgraded car was lighter.

“We're nearly there and we will be there within the next race or two,” he said.

“It's a programme that we've had since before race one, and it's not one thing - it's just many smaller reductions that will get us there.”

Asked if this meant hitting the minimum weight limit or being below to give it freedom with ballast, Pilbeam said: “I don't want to go into too much detail, but we'll soon be in a place that we're happy with, to be able to give ourselves a bit of flexibility as well as just running on the limit.”

Alpine fast-tracked its latest development in order for it to be used at the Chinese Grand Prix.

Understandably, we’re unable to see any changes that might have been employed to the floor’s more critical underbody. But, there are changes to the floor’s edge and the edge wing that are visible.

The forward section of the edge wing, which has more than a passing resemblance to the two-tier, C-shaped winglet stack seen on the Red Bull, remains largely unblemished in the overhaul, with more focus drawn to the rear section.

This begins with the camber of the element as it’s twisted away from the forward section, with both the edge wing and floor geometry altered to accommodate a cutout in the floor.

The cutout not only results in the rear tyre spat region being raised, when compared with the section ahead of it, but that forward area also reclines.

Both of these surfaces are intersected by a new dog-legged section on the rear of the edge wing that forms a wing-shaped element that connects to the underside of the floor and does away with the tapered tail on the edge wing.

Interestingly, this is somewhat of a reversion for Alpine, as the A523 (see inset) featured a rear floor cutout, with a raised rear platform.

Previously though the winglet protruding from the cutout wasn’t connected to the edge wing on that occasion, suggesting the team has found performance from combining the two design solutions.

Watch: F1 Teams Concerns about the 2026 Regulations Changes

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