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‘Confident’ Alpine planning upgrade for F1 Bahrain GP

The Alpine Formula 1 team has “a level of confidence” ahead of the opening race of the season in Bahrain, where it will already introduce its first upgrade package.

Pierre Gasly, Alpine A523

Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly did not feature that high on timing screens over the three-day pre-season test in Sakhir as the team focused on longer runs and experimentation with its A523, deciding not to run with low fuel or use the softest tyres in Pirelli’s range.

However, rivals have indicated that the Enstone team looks competitive and will potentially be vying with Aston Martin to be head of the midfield.

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Technical director Matt Harman indicated that the team was satisfied with the outcome of the testing as it knows how much performance it has in hand.

“We have a level of confidence,” he said. “Of course we do, because we're clearly not running the car at its full potential.

“I don't like to labour on that too much, because I have no idea where the others are running, to be quite honest. We do our analysis, we all know we are looking at each other, and where we are.

“There's a massive level of uncertainty in that. But from our point of view things are responding as we expected, our aerodynamics are working as we expected.

“We've tried some quite interesting different developments this week, and they've proved to be quite positive. So we're looking forward to the first race.”

Team principal Otmar Szafnauer agreed that testing had shown some promise and that was cautiously optimistic.

Otmar Szafnauer, Team Principal, Alpine F1

Otmar Szafnauer, Team Principal, Alpine F1

Photo by: Alister Thorpe / GP Racing

He said: "We haven't taken the fuel out yet to see what we can do over one lap, my optimism comes from the fact that our long-run pace looks pretty good, and that we've had decent feedback from the drivers saying they're happy with the car.

“It's predictable, there's no gremlins, no snappiness. However, there's still some work to be done."
Harman confirmed that the first upgrade package will hit the track as early as next weekend for the opening round.

“There'll be some visual differences to the first race,” he said. “We've got quite a nice upgrade going on, and hopefully that'll help with our with our quest at getting closer to that third position, if not being in that position."

“And then moving forward with what we learned this week to not only improve the car for the first race itself, but also with development we know we want to be aggressive, as we were last year, if not more so.”

Last year Alpine was notable for regularly bringing new parts to the car, while others did fewer but larger packages, with Harman hopeful the team can do the same this year.

“It may not be every race, because as the cars are evolving they're becoming more integrated, and therefore the packages that you need to bring need to be a little bit more widespread," he said.

“But fundamentally, there will be an attempt to try and develop something every race, even if it's not just bodywork, and things that you can see visually, but things that you maybe can't that give us lap time.

“So yeah, that's our intent. We were quite proud of that last year, and we've got the same resources, we've got the same finances, if not slightly better. So it's just down to us to get through that work.”

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