Why Alpine’s intense F1 development push shows no sign of slowing

Alpine is the only team on the grid to have updated its car at every single Formula 1 race so far this season.

Why Alpine’s intense F1 development push shows no sign of slowing

While some developments have been minor tweaks and optimisations, at other times there have been hefty upgrade packages thrown into the mix as the team balances a well-coordinated development programme that’s repositioned it in the fight for fourth place.

But while few of its rivals have been able to keep up with the scale of such revision, Alpine says there is no evidence of it running out of steam.

As Alan Permane, Alpine’s sporting director, said: “There's been something every race. And that will continue. We've got another little small step in Hungary, and then we've got two decent steps in both Spa and Zandvoort.”

Alpine’s last major tweak revolved around its large sidepod update, which draws further inspiration from its own design stable, whilst taking influence from the Red Bull and Ferrari solutions.

However, last week in France it was the floor that was the main focus.

“For Silverstone we introduced our third floor of the year and this is an evolution of that,” added Permane.

“This is what we call the MK3B floor. There's not actually so much you can see from [above] but the detail [mid cutout] is new.”

Whilst that midpoint floor cutout is clearly different from the original MK3 spec floor (inset), with the Red Bull influence once again clear to see, it’s the underside of the floor, which we can’t see, where the real action is. 

Alpine A522 'Ice Skate'

Alpine A522 'Ice Skate'

Like Red Bull and Ferrari, who have subsequently adopted the solution, the A522 now features an ‘Ice Skate’ element.

As you’d expect, without having images of the underside of the floor on tap it’s difficult to show you the skate in any detail but, this image gives us a clear view of the outermost tip (red arrow).

What’s also incredibly apparent in this image is how the floor can be loaded in a multidirectional sense, as the forward most part of the floor (ahead of the forward floor arc) remains at a stable height above the track’s surface, whereas the rearmost section is riding low against the asphalt.

The team was obviously happy with the feedback from its drivers and the data being gathered too, as while they only had two of this version of the floor available in France, it had dispatched its spare back to its Enstone factory to be modified.

“[In France] I think we've got two Mk3B's brand new and three of the A-version,” added Permane.

“The As are going back [to the factory] to be modified. It's not really a job we can do at the track. Obviously, it's quite a complex change”.

One of the other impressive feats of Alpine’s success so far this season is the diet plan that it has had the A522 on to get closer to the weight limit, something all of the teams have struggled to achieve this year.

Normally cars put on weight over the season as new parts are introduced, but Permane says the French car manufacturer has managed to go the other way.

“We are very close [to the weight limit],” he said. “We're not quite there, we're agonisingly close to the limit, within a couple of kilos.

“It's really difficult to shed weight, especially a completely new car with a new concept. Typically cars gain three, four, five kilos over a season as you add upgrades and you have to repair things a little bit, or you've been a bit aggressive on stuff and it's a bit too light. 

Read Also:

“I think we are seven and a half or eight kilos lighter than we were at the start of season, which is really a huge deal”.

Alpine still feels like it can make significant gains over the remainder of the season, but is also fully aware that certain aspects of its current design are limited owing to the way the A522 is laid out. Therefore more extreme solutions could be expected for 2023.

“We're still finding a lot of gains with the floor as I guess -  floor and top bodies and stuff like that,” added Permane.

“I suspect what we're learning this year will inevitably lead to some more extreme examples next year. Where we're limited by packaging of radiators and exhaust and stuff like that this year, of course that can all be changed for next year.”

shares
comments

Related video

McLaren sees halo parallels with F1 2023 floor safety argument
Previous article

McLaren sees halo parallels with F1 2023 floor safety argument

Next article

Magazine: Are Ferrari's F1 title hopes over after the French GP?

Magazine: Are Ferrari's F1 title hopes over after the French GP?
How departing F1 boss Brawn views F1’s new rules - and the future Plus

How departing F1 boss Brawn views F1’s new rules - and the future

Multiple-title-winning designer and team boss Ross Brawn is finally leaving Formula 1 after nearly 50 years in motorsport. But he still has plenty of insights on what’s working and what comes next, as he revealed to Autosport in a far-reaching exclusive interview in Abu Dhabi

Formula 1
Dec 2, 2022
The key F1 management call Ferrari must make to avoid more defeat Plus

The key F1 management call Ferrari must make to avoid more defeat

OPINION: Mattia Binotto’s departure from Ferrari will naturally bring a range of changes across the Formula 1 team. But how the changes shape up and the impact they could have is set to be dictated by a key direction Ferrari’s top dogs will need to pick

Formula 1
Nov 30, 2022
The difference between Mercedes’ stumble and the fall of F1 giants Plus

The difference between Mercedes’ stumble and the fall of F1 giants

OPINION: Mercedes endured its worst season of the hybrid Formula 1 era, but was mercifully spared its first winless campaign in over a decade late on. It has owned up to the mistakes it made which led to its troubled W13. And while its task to return to title-challenging contention is not small, its 2022 season seems more like a blip than the beginning of a downward spiral.

Formula 1
Nov 29, 2022
The physical focus bringing out the best of an F1 midfield star Plus

The physical focus bringing out the best of an F1 midfield star

Esteban Ocon likes to point out he’s the first driver since Lewis Hamilton to emerge from a spell as Fernando Alonso’s team-mate with a superior overall points record. While some may disagree, as LUKE SMITH discovered, the 2021 Hungarian GP winner reckons it’s not just luck which has made him France’s pre-eminent Formula 1 driver of the moment…

Formula 1
Nov 28, 2022
How Red Bull's dynamic leader shaped its F1 philosophy Plus

How Red Bull's dynamic leader shaped its F1 philosophy

The death of Dietrich Mateschitz last month has not only deprived Red Bull of its visionary founder, it has shorn Formula 1 of one of its most influential benefactors. Mateschitz himself was famously media-shy, preferring to let the brand do the talking on his behalf. And, while it’s now normal to speak of Red Bull F1 titles and champions made, Mateschitz never assumed it would be easy or even possible – as ANTHONY ROWLINSON discovered during this previously unpublished interview from 2006…

Formula 1
Nov 27, 2022
Can Mercedes break Formula 1's cycle of doom? Plus

Can Mercedes break Formula 1's cycle of doom?

OPINION: Teams that have dominated for long periods throughout Formula 1's history often take years to get back to the top of the tree once they've slipped down. But it remains to be seen whether the same will happen to Mercedes after a challenging 2022 season

Formula 1
Nov 24, 2022
What hurt Perez most in his ill-fated fight for second in Abu Dhabi Plus

What hurt Perez most in his ill-fated fight for second in Abu Dhabi

Arguably the favourite in the battle to finish second best in 2022's Formula 1 standings, Sergio Perez's two-stop strategy at Abu Dhabi couldn't take him ahead of Charles Leclerc when the music stopped - and several key factors ultimately precluded him from the much-coveted runner-up spot

Formula 1
Nov 23, 2022
The Abu Dhabi momentum that can propel Leclerc and Ferrari to F1 2023 success Plus

The Abu Dhabi momentum that can propel Leclerc and Ferrari to F1 2023 success

OPINION: Charles Leclerc achieved his target of sealing runner-up in the 2022 world championship with a masterful drive behind Max Verstappen in Abu Dhabi. And that race contained key elements that may help him, and Ferrari, go one better in Formula 1 2023

Formula 1
Nov 22, 2022