Alpine “look forward to racing those guys” as ATR limit bites F1’s top teams · RaceFans

Alpine team principal Otmar Szafnauer says they are looking forward to taking on Formula 1’s leading teams as the series’ performance-balancing rules increasingly affect the competitive order.

Under changes introduced to F1’s Aerodynamic Testing Regulations in 2020, the amount of development work teams may conduct using a wind tunnel or Computational Fluid Dynamics is restricted based on how high they finish in the championship. The champions receive the lowest testing allocation and the last-placed team gets the most.

Alpine finished fourth in the constructors championship last year, meaning it can conduct more development work than Mercedes, Ferrari and champions Red Bull. However Alpine finished a long way behind those teams: Third-placed Mercedes scored almost three times as many points.

Nonetheless Szafnauer believes that the combination of largely stable regulations and the variable ATR limits will help his team close the gap to their rivals.

Alpine A523 liveries, 2023
Pictures: Alpine reveal A523 in regular livery and pink colours for first three races

“The regulations have changed again due to porpoising,” he acknowledged at the team’s launch last week. “I think the gap does change if you leave the regulations the same because it’s harder for, say, a top team to find at the margin even further gains. But we know that those gains exist because they have them, so we will close the gap quicker.

“That plus having a development rate that’s higher gets you there quicker. So I look forward to us racing those guys.”

The introduction of a budget cap during 2021 has also prevented F1’s top teams from out-spending their rivals. However Szafnauer admitted the effect of the cap can vary from team to team.

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“If you’re spending at the cap and your cap is effectively the same as the others, then I think it makes it easier,” he told media including RaceFans. “But everyone has different organisational structures now and I think because of it the effective cap might be a little bit different.”

Report: Alpine explains why its fix for engine problems had to wait until 2023

There is an “inevitable budget cap competition that’s happening now”, he added. “So we’re working hard on it.”

Last year three teams were found to broken the cost cap rules. One of those, Red Bull, overspent. However Szafnauer expects compliance will improve this year.

“I think some of the problems that teams had last year was because it was new,” he said. “So I think the longer the cost cap goes, the more we’ll be able to refine our processes and the more fidelity we’ll have in measuring all the costs and the less problems that there will be.”

“The cost cap is really, really important to Formula 1,” he stressed. “I think it drives a couple of things. One, better valuations for the teams, which is helpful to have financial stability and financial health. And I think also the cost cap might bring the field closer together and have better racing. So the cost cap should stay.”

Alpine complied with the cost cap rules last year and Szafnauer is confident they will have no problems again this year. “You won’t be surprised from us,” he said. “We’ll be under.”

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