What will Alpine’s role be in the 2023 World Cup? The French company has given itself until 2025 to enter the world fight, in a five-year plan that had been launched by the CEO of Automobiles Alpine and the F1 team, Laurent Rossi.
The 47-year-old transalpine manager is aware that it will be difficult to improve on the fourth place won in the Constructors’ championship, considering that Alpine collected 173 championship points last year, less than a quarter of those of the Red Bull champion: Mercedes, after a disappointing season at the debut of single-seater ground effect, they finished with a tally of 342 points more than the Enstone team.
Thinking, therefore, of attacking the three top teams (Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes) remains unrealistic: the gap remains too large to hope to fill it in a championship, so the brightest prospect is to confirm the role of “first of the others ” in fourth place, battling against McLaren and Aston Martin.
To establish a typical esprit de corps of grandeur francaise, a pair of French drivers was chosen, placing Pierre Gasly alongside the confirmed Esteban Ocon, following the departure of Fernando Alonso who chose Aston Martin.
Photo by: Alpine
In short, Alpine is in a sort of middle world in which keeping what was consolidated in the last championship could already be a success, even if the A523 presented in London after dinner seems to nurture the ambition of being a machine capable of arrive in the podium area, raising the threshold of competitiveness.
Pat Fry, in the role of CTO, is the man of order of the technical staff, while the technical direction of the chassis is entrusted to Matt Harman, and that of the engine to Bruno Famin, who coordinates the Viry-Chatillon work group.
At Enstone they worked on the mechanical part, putting their hand on the front and rear suspensions, and on aerodynamic efficiency by working on the front wing and on the expulsion of heat from the bellies. The A523 revealed in London is very fake, while we describe the version that shot at Silverstone which should be closer to what we will see in Bahrain. The performances are not finished yet…
Let’s start our analysis starting from the nose which has a new design: it is no longer rounded, but flat and the nose rests on the main profile, while on the A522 it protruded from the first flap. The front wing, in fact, is of a new concept and goes a bit in antithesis with the work done by the competition: in 2022 the central part of the wing was characterized by a spoon that has disappeared and, indeed, has given way to a slightly gull-wing shape, like on the Mercedes W14.
The main profile has a very short chord, with the first flap that almost overlaps: the last two elements also have a low incidence (the single-seater made the filming day at Silverstone) and both go to zero near the side bulkhead to favor the out-wash effect of the streams that have to be pushed outside the front wheel. The front wing seen in plan view on the track was particularly short, while that London presentation was more traditional.
The side bulkhead is quite worked on each side: there are gaps frontally and above, as well as the endplate does not reach the maximum width with an arched trailing edge.
The front suspension maintains the push rod layout of the A522, but the lower triangle has been raised to facilitate the passage of clean air further down, so as to direct it to the bottom. The strut, therefore, is less inclined, even if it seems more oriented towards the front.
The mouth of the bellies has remained squared and shows an exaggerated Red Bull-type tray and consequently there is a deep excavation like that obtained by Ferrari and Aston Martin. The aerodynamicists directed by Dirk De Beer also concentrated on taking care of the showy hollow in the upper part: it is not as harmonious as the Ferrari hollow that inspired the Alpine, but the side remains high and full-bodied and only in the last stretch does it become strongly descending.
In reality, the ballast is useful to prevent the flow from reattaching to the car body, preferring to push it towards the outside of the rear wheel, because the real slide can be observed inside the excavated part where the first slits for dispersing the heat of the radiators.
The larger mirror is supported by its two classic supports, while on the belly there are four vertical vortex generators aligned slightly diagonally.
Photo by: Alpine
Accurate micro-aerodynamic work has been done in the area where the Halo attaches to the frame: we note a vertical extension above the beginning of the tiara: on the outside there are two flow deflectors oriented upwards, while behind the pilot’s helmet, between the headrest and the lateral headrest, a channel has been created which pushes the flow towards the rear, arriving with a slightly inclined design downwards towards the beam wing.
The airbox is the same as last year’s with a trapezoidal roll hoop and with two external ears: the bonnet is quite pronounced because on the 6-cylinder turbo E-Tech there is still a radiator that vents the heat in the rear part of the engine cover without stabilizer fin.
The A523, on the other hand, has taken the concept of the decidedly larger “bazooka” to the extreme because its body is rounded and only shows a pair of gills in the lateral area which can be more open on hotter tracks, making the cooling system very more modular.
The sidewalk of the fund has been raised by 15 mm to be in compliance with the regulations: it is surprising that in front of the rear wheel there is a huge tie rod that reaches from the gearbox to the outer edge of the last section of the fund to stiffen the structure and avoid bouncing on the sidewalk which can generate sudden load losses and, therefore, instabilities in behaviour.
The suspension is also totally new: it has gone to the push rod layout, reversing it from last year which was pull: this change also required the creation of a gearbox with the kinematics at the top. What was lost at the mechanical level should have been gained with aerodynamic interest, given that the Venturi tunnel that blows towards the rear diffuser does not have the interference of the pull rod. And the lower triangle has also been lifted, finding a cleaning that makes the rear end more efficient.
The rear wing is supported by a single pylon in line with Enstone’s specifications. The A523 is anything but a single-seater with harmonious lines: Harman and Fry didn’t look at the beautiful, but at the essential. The Alpine is certainly not a work of art, but Gasly and Ocon will have the task of bringing it to the podium more than once. In that case it will be beautiful…
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