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How Alpine are recovering from their early season nightmare

Alpine is slowly climbing the field after their poor start to the year, making steady improvements with the A524.

Alpine secured their first points of 2024 in Miami, courtesy of Esteban Ocon. The Frenchman executed another solid performance, getting himself off the mark in the standings. When the season began, there were huge concerns about the A524’s performance. Thankfully for Bruno Famin’s squad, there is incremental progress from the factory in Enstone.

Before analysing the French outfit’s improved form, realistic expectations must be set. Unless Alpine can make unprecedented mid-season progress, they are likely to spend this year fighting in the midfield. RB and Haas are at the front of this group — and these are the teams within striking distance.

One of the immediate problems with the A524 in Bahrain was its excess weight. It was the only machine several kilos over the minimum weight, costing a few tenths per lap in performance.

Thankfully for Alpine, this issue has largely been addressed. Just by doing something which should have been accomplished over winter, the French team made a reasonable step forward. Combined with a series of aerodynamic upgrades, points are now within reach.

Ocon pleased with the team’s resilience

Even before Ocon crossed the line in P10 at Miami, he was in contention for top-10 results in Australia and then China. Speaking to the media in Florida, the Grand Prix winner discussed the team’s progress:

“We need to keep doing these baby steps forward but, looking at where we were in Bahrain, well done to the team for keeping on the belief.

“[For] keeping the motivation going and improving the car step by step. Because today, finally, we come out of a weekend with some reward.”

In fairness to Alpine, they anticipated they would start the year poorly during their pre-season launch. Although they are unlikely to have anticipated how far behind they were, their 2024 would always hinge on mid-season development.

Considering the resources at their disposal compared to other teams in the midfield, they have the means to progress more rapidly than their rivals. Although digging themselves out of their own mistakes is—frankly—the bare minimum, there has been progress in this regard.

Fighting for p6 in the Championship will be very difficult, especially as RB continue to progress. Even Haas is proving capable of introducing upgrades mid-season, which was not the case in previous years.

Therefore, Alpine’s 2024 will focus on cementing themselves in the midfield. Whilst they claimed 6th in the Championship last year, AlphaTauri were objectively the faster team by the end of the year.

In this sense, Alpine’s recovery is predicated on returning to its relative position in the midfield. With reasonable updates and a better understanding of its overall platform, it can at least compete with other upper-midfield teams for points.

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