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F1 News: Bahrain practice reveals harsh reality of Alpine situation

Drawing conclusions from the first practice of 2024 is always dangerous, but there are still reasons to be concerned at Alpine.

The A524 is a machine that, since pre-season testing, has been downplayed by Enstone.

Expectations from the French outfit have been minimal for several weeks, and especially since testing.

Based on last week’s running, Alpine suffers from a variety of serious limitations.

These include an overweight car and a poor engine. This is despite the team’s efforts to improve the Renault power unit’s efficiency.

Alpine’s carbon-heavy livery is also a major talking point. Still, it hasn’t compensated for its excess kilos.

Just these factors are costing the A524 an estimated five-tenths per lap. Even for the best engineers in Formula 1, overcoming this almost automatic deficit is no easy feat.

There are other problems on the team’s list, such as the limited load and aerodynamic performance generated by the car.

All of this was relatively well-established before Practice 1 in Sakhir. Statements from Ocon, Gasly and senior personnel in the team have all echoed a similar sense of resignation to the situation.

Unfortunately for Bruno Famin’s personnel, there are no reasons to be optimistic. Even an ultra-efficient development programme would struggle to overhaul the team’s current predicament.

Looking at the timing sessions from the first official session of 2024, Alpine finds itself at the very back.

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Esteban Ocon was 17th with a 1:35.144, with teammate Pierre Gasly around three-tenths behind.

As it stands, only the Haas duo were behind the all-French duo.

What makes matters worse is that, unlike the rest of the field, Haas did not set a single low-fuel run.

They remained focused on long runs, meaning Alpine were essentially last in FP1. Of course, there is still time to rectify the situation.

However, it cannot be said there are many strong reasons to expect a resurgence from Enstone.

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