Alpine confident of fighting Mercedes with upgraded A523

© XPB 

Alpine believes it can take the fight to its front-running rivals in upcoming races thanks to a "decent-size" upgrade that the team will introduce in Baku at the end of the month.

Ahead of the start of its 2023 campaign, Alpine targeted finishing fourth in the Constructors' standings but much closer to its Ferrari and Mercedes rivals.

However, Aston Martin has emerged as another serious contender capable of competing among F1's top-three.

Alpine currently sits fifth in the standings, having scored only 8 points in the first three races of the season and suffered a costly double DNF last time out in Melbourne, with Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon eliminating each other in the chaos of the race's second restart.

The Enstone squad thus has some catching up to do put itself back on track, and team boss Otmar Szafnauer believes that Alpine's upgrade package will draw the outfit closer to its rivals and to Mercedes in particular.

"We think we can fight with them," said Szafnauer in Australia. "We too have a decent-size upgrade coming for Baku and then a little bit more only a week later in Miami, so we continue to push the upgrades out.

"The important thing is that they all work when we put them on the car and we have good correlation with our simulation tools.

"We had good correlation last year and if that continues and if we continue to push the upgrades, we'll take that development fight over the season to the others around us."

Szafnauer admitted that Alpine's bust at the end of the race in Melbourne has put in jeopardy the team's ability to roll out its scheduled upgrade in Baku to its "full extent".

"The accident has shifted the priorities," explained the Alpine boss. "For now, we need spare parts for Baku.

"You don’t just rebuild things like a front wing in a fortnight. We still have to check whether that has an influence on whether we can bring our development package to its full extent."

While the team will work hard to implement the full scale of its update package in Baku, Szafnauer knows that Alpine's rivals up ahead aren't standing still.

So while the French outfit may achieve a step forward, in relative terms it may not.

"It's really hard to know what [Mercedes] will bring. Last year, if I look back, I think our development rate was pretty good, and if we can keep up the same this year, I think we should, over the year, get closer.

"[It's] really hard to know. As you know, it's a relative game. I know what we've got coming. What I don't know is what they have coming."

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