Alpine says it “maxed out” the potential of its 2023 car which justified conceiving an all-new contender for 2024, a “bold” design on which only the steering wheel was carried over from its predecessor.
This ambitious move, spearheaded by technical director Matt Harman, reflects the team's dissatisfaction with their 2023 performance and their hunger to return to the top of the midfield.
Last year saw Alpine drop from a promising fourth place to a disappointing sixth in F1 Constructors’ Championship in which it was unable to compete effectively with rivals like McLaren and Aston Martin.
While the 2023 A523 displayed potential, further performance gains proved elusive. Recognizing this ceiling, Harman and his team made the bold decision to scrap the existing design and start afresh.
This redesign goes beyond cosmetic changes; it promises a car with a significantly wider "operating window."
In simpler terms, the new F1 contender aims to be more versatile and adaptable across different track conditions and driving styles. This adaptability could prove crucial in closing the gap on competitors who have seemingly taken a leap forward.
"There are many big changes on the A524, our challenger for the 2024 season,” commented Harman. “We maxed out the potential on the A523 and so the A524 is completely new from front to back,"
"We rigorously analysed the key aerodynamic concepts that we wanted to move towards on this car to explore more aerodynamic freedom and better unlock these concepts to their full potential.”
The decision to start from scratch signifies a strategic shift for Alpine. While the potential risks inherent in such a major overhaul are undeniable, the potential rewards are equally tempting.
"We found with the A523 that it was operating within a very narrow window. This was a weakness as it meant we were limited on what we could exploit with the car and there were very specific characteristics on where it thrived and where it did not.
"Therefore, for the A524, we aim to broaden this window as much as we can to give ourselves a better opportunity of maximising its potential."
Alpine’s new car features a ground-up chassis redesign alongside comprehensive upgrades, such as a reworked rear suspension setup, optimized brake cooling, a revised nose and front wing, and, as Harman emphasizes, an "aggressively" developed underfloor.
The British engineer is banking on the changes providing Alpine with a lengthened development trajectory, not only throughout 2024 but also through 2025, the final year of the sport’s current regulation cycle.
"By applying these changes, we are giving ourselves much wider scope to add performance across the next two seasons even if there has been some compromise on reaching certain targets," he explained.
"We have pushed some elements to the limit and, in some cases, beyond that. That is all in line with our approach and exactly what we have set out to achieve in progressing this project to the best possible level.
"This project began as early as the end of the 2022 season," added Harman. "We started doing some experiments with the car at races across 2023. This enabled us to highlight the areas in which we aim to improve the aerodynamics and vehicle dynamics of the car."