Otmar Szafnauer believes the BWT Alpine F1 Team suffered less with porpoising than other teams did during the 2022 FIA Formula 1 World Championship season, and the team do not have any concerns about it happening in 2023.
The A522 was one of the few cars during 2022 not to need floor stays to reduce any bouncing down the straights, with a pre-season regulation change allowing for these stays, which Chief Technical Officer Pat Fry has already said prevented Alpine from having a better start to the season than they eventually did.
Szafnauer, the Team Principal of the Enstone-based team, says that whilst significant changes have been made to the A523, Alpine are not expecting porpoising to have any real effect on the team, even with the new floor regulations mandated by the FIA coming into effect.
“We’ve made some significant changes for next year on the car,” said Szafnauer to PlanetF1.com. “The porpoising, I think we were able to tune out so to speak, but we tuned it out at the expense of performance. Others could have tuned it out as well, I think they didn’t want to lose that performance.
“So they did other things like lobby the FIA, get rule changes, all sorts of stuff, but not to have to remove porpoising through performance loss.
“Maybe that’s because our performance loss to get on top of porpoising was less, I don’t know, because I don’t know what their loss was. I just know what our loss was.
“We would manipulate the car setup to make sure that the drivers were OK. But that always came at the expense of performance. Maybe some of the others didn’t want to do that, they saw better routes.
“Next year, I think we should be OK for porpoising and just build on the base that we have this year.”
Szafnauer says the team are focusing on reducing the weaknesses that affected them during 2022 with the 2023 car, and he is confident they can show improvements next season and give Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly a competitive car.
“There are things we’re changing already,” Szafnauer said. “There are areas where we’re lacking compared to some of the other teams, and the areas where we’re lacking are areas where the tools that we have to be able to analyse quickly are experiments and do experiments in not the real world, [in order] to be able to say, ‘we need to do this, this and this’ to make the car quicker.
“So in that area, we’re lacking a bit. So simulation tools, for example, hardware and software, and some people. So three things, and we need to improve that area. And if we can improve that area, we’ll then improve the car quicker.”