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Alpine drivers admit team ‘on the back foot’ heading into 2024

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BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - FEBRUARY 23: Esteban Ocon of France and Alpine F1 looks on in the garage during

A switch to a new car concept for 2024 has left drivers Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon realistic about their prospects for the early-season races – with the pair admitting the team will be “on the back foot” when the season gets under way this weekend in Bahrain.

A disappointing 2023 saw Alpine fall from P4 in the constructors’ in 2022 to a lonely P6 in 2023, in spite of a brace of podiums – one each for Ocon and Gasly.

TECH ANALYSIS: Why there’s more to Alpine’s new A524 car than meets the eye

A change in management midway through 2023 – with previous ‘interim’ Team Principal Bruno Famin now fully embedded as boss – has been echoed by a shift in car concept for this year’s A524 in the hopes of restoring Alpine's fortunes, with the team admitting that it will take some time to fully understand the package.

“We know we’re entering this season slightly on the back foot with the new car concept and the team is working incredibly hard to bring more performance to the car in the coming races,” said Ocon, speaking ahead of this weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix, which marks 20 years since the Sakhir race joined the calendar.

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Ocon: 'We need to keep going'

“The test session in Bahrain was extremely valuable and we learnt a lot about the new car and its characteristics. The car improved from the first to the last day in testing, so we’re hoping to see similar improvements over the course of the race weekend.

“We know what we’re working with heading into the opening race of the season, and we must extract the maximum from our package to give us the best possible chance of coming away with something from the weekend.”

READ MORE: 4 Winners and 4 Losers from pre-season testing – Who was left craving more time in Bahrain?

Team mate Gasly – who missed some track time on the final day of the pre-season test in Bahrain after losing a wheel cover from his A524 – agreed with Ocon’s level-headed assessment, adding: “I expect it will take some time for us to unlock the performance we want from the car but that is no surprise given it’s a new concept. I’m remaining realistic. I know it will not be an easy start for us but what is most important is to keep identifying the key areas of work and to learn and progress.

BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - FEBRUARY 23: Pierre Gasly of France driving the (10) Alpine F1 A524 Renault on

The A524 marks a concept shift for Alpine

“There is a lot to learn,” he went on. “I think the good thing is we’ve identified what we’ve got to improve and what are the priorities to focus on over the next few weeks. It’s been very clear with Esteban, we had very similar feedback straight away. And then it’s all about analysing whether we can fix these issues with set-ups ahead [of the Bahrain Grand Prix], or whether we need more and bigger upgrades to counter these couple of issues that we can identify already.”

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Meanwhile, pushed on where Alpine were in the pecking order heading into the record-breaking 24-race 2024 season, Gasly joked: “We’re not at the top, that’s one thing we know! But then after, I don’t want to make any conclusions now. As I said, it’s a new car, there is a lot to understand, there is a lot of performance we will have to find. But right now to make a claim or any conclusion after this much running would not be fair.”

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'There is a lot to learn' - Pierre Gasly reflects on testing in Bahrain

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