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TEAM PREVIEW: Can an overhauled Alpine get themselves out of no man’s land?

Staff Writer

Mike Seymour
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Alpine experienced a dramatic year off the track in 2023, with a major managerial reshuffle and investment from high-profile sports stars changing the face of the team. After dropping from fourth to a lonely sixth in the constructors’ standings, it remains to be seen whether the overhaul will trigger a more positive on-track period. Here’s the lowdown on the team as the new season approaches…

Drivers for 2024

Pierre Gasly #10: 1 Grand Prix win, 4 podiums, 394 points, 130 Grands Prix starts
Esteban Ocon #31: 1 Grand Prix win, 3 podiums, 422 points, 133 Grands Prix starts

Pierre Gasly made his F1 debut with Toro Rosso in 2017 and earned promotion to Red Bull a season and a half later, but that stint lasted just 12 races as he struggled to match team mate Max Verstappen and got sent back to the renamed AlphaTauri to rebuild his career.

READ MORE: The 2025 driver market is wide open – Where does that leave Gasly and Ocon at Alpine?

A breakthrough maiden podium followed at the 2019 Brazilian Grand Prix and a maiden win in Italy a year later, while his recovering confidence, growing maturity and consistent points-scoring caught the eye of rival team bosses, prompting a switch to Alpine for 2023 after Fernando Alonso sparked the driver market into life by signing with Aston Martin.

When Gasly arrived at Enstone, he linked up with a fellow Frenchman in Esteban Ocon, who debuted with backmarkers Manor in 2016, moved on to Force India/Racing Point and then joined Renault for 2020, recording his own landmark maiden F1 win during the team’s first year as the rebranded Alpine at the 2021 Hungarian Grand Prix.

The first full-time all-French driver line-up at a Renault-backed outfit since Alain Prost and Rene Arnoux in 1982, Gasly and Ocon will continue as team mates for a second season as they push to get Alpine moving in the right direction once more.

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Gasly and Ocon reunited last year after climbing the karting ranks together

Last season

Alpine set a clear target of finishing a “solid” fourth in 2023 to build on securing that position the year before – via a scrap with McLaren – while getting closer to the likes of Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes.

However, rather than joining the fight at the sharp end, Alpine rarely troubled the front-runners and slipped back to sixth in the constructors’ standings, being leapfrogged by both McLaren and Aston Martin.

ANALYSIS: Alpine’s plan to avoid another lonely finish in the F1 constructors’ standings

There were some positives of note, such as Ocon’s podium in Monaco and Gasly’s rostrum in the Netherlands, but not enough to satisfy Renault’s chiefs, as sweeping managerial changes were made mid-season – Team Principal Otmar Szafnauer and Sporting Director Alan Permane both leaving after the Belgian Grand Prix.

Amid further reshuffling, Bruno Famin has been acting as team boss since then, taking on the role permanently for 2024, but only time will tell if the new A524 – which has retained no more than the steering wheel from last year’s car – will get Alpine’s programme back on track.

A host of new sports star investors announced towards the end of last season will be watching with interest…

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Bruno Famin seeks 'improvement' from Alpine in 2024

History

As touched on above, when Ocon arrived at the team for 2020 they were known simply as Renault, the French manufacturer having spent several spells in the sport as both a works team and a power unit supplier since the 1970s.

However, at the end of that year, Renault decided to rebrand the outfit – who build their chassis in Enstone, England, and engine in Viry-Chatillon, France – to Alpine, a subsidiary founded in 1955 and focused on developing sports cars and racing cars.

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

Indeed, Alpine won the famed 24 Hours of Le Mans back in 1978 and will return this year when they take on the Hypercar category of the World Endurance Championship, having signed Mick Schumacher as part of their driver line-up.

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Alpine Origins: The story of the Formula 1 team

Greatest achievement

Putting Renault’s overall F1 success to one side, which includes back-to-back titles with Fernando Alonso in 2005 and 2006, the standout moment from the Alpine programme so far is Ocon’s aforementioned victory.

Ocon started the wet/dry encounter down in eighth position but took advantage of a Turn 1 pile-up triggered by Valtteri Bottas and a bizarre restart that saw every driver bar Lewis Hamilton pit for slicks, before keeping his cool under pressure from the seven-time world champion late on.

F1 ICONS: Alpine’s Esteban Ocon on his racing inspiration, Ferrari legend Michael Schumacher

Alpine have three other podium finishes to their name so far, with Fernando Alonso making the rostrum in Qatar in 2021, followed by last year’s brace for Ocon on the streets of Monte Carlo and Gasly at Zandvoort.

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Ocon and Alpine scored a landmark victory at the Hungaroring in 2021

One key goal for 2024

With Alpine effectively hitting the reset button on their F1 operation last season, 2024 will be an important year for the squad as they look to arrest the decline and avoid losing any further ground in the constructors’ standings.

However, after so many managerial changes, a period of stability has to be a priority moving forward, ensuring that both factories and the trackside team know where they stand, and that everyone is pulling in the same direction.

READ MORE: ‘We’ve got some big ideas’ – After a turbulent 2023, tech chief Matt Harman explains Alpine’s plan to turn it around this year

Famin and those around him have a big job on their hands to transform Alpine’s fortunes, with Red Bull, Mercedes, Ferrari, McLaren and Aston Martin all doing a better job last season, and teams such as Williams showing positive signs.

But having been given the chance, they now deserve time to implement their own approach and see where it takes them.

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