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Esteban Ocon, Alpine A524 and Alex Albon, Williams FW46
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Opinion

Will Alpine really start at the back of F1 2024's pecking order?

OPINION: Alpine was usurped in Formula 1's pecking order during 2023 by Aston Martin and McLaren, but a downbeat pre-season test in Bahrain suggests its attentions may be directed rearwards rather than immediately reclaiming its lost ground

"It's not going to be an easy first race, we're not going to start from where we would have liked," Pierre Gasly told Sky at the close of Formula 1's annual pre-season test-athon, not long after stepping out from his evening shift aboard Alpine's new A524 in Bahrain. It was hardly a confidence-inspiring reaction. Given the proclivity for expectations-management throughout pre-season, as the mouthpieces with the largest gravitas wish to save being hoisted upon their own petard, Gasly's comment cut through the testing tentativeness like a hot knife through butter.

The A524 appeared languorous on track throughout testing. Where other cars appear to be wielded like a rapier in some of the more dynamic corners, the Alpine is more akin to fencing with a claymore. Like last year, its Renault power unit is some 30bhp down on everyone else, but the new car looked difficult to handle and the bare-carbon exterior suggests that it might be coming into 2024 carrying extra timber.

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