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2023 Performance Review: Alpine

Written by Sophie Harvey, Edited by Vyas Ponnuri

The 2023 F1 Season ended in November, and ever since, our Formula One writers have been hard at work, reviewing the drivers’ performances and rating them across a scale of ten. Our next review highlights the turbulent year of the Enstone-based team, Alpine, who will be hoping for a more consistent season next time around.

Image Credit - Alpine

After finishing 2022 ahead of their closest midfield rival, McLaren, the French team earmarked 2023 as a year of resurgence. With their sights set on the front-runners and a new, exciting driver lineup, it’s unfortunate that the promising season they anticipated didn’t quite formulate.

Following the shock departure of Fernando Alonso, a summer of chaos ensued – when Alpine Academy driver, and FIA Formula 2 Champion Oscar Piastri publicly denied the team’s promotion, paving the way for Pierre Gasly to partner fellow countryman Esteban Ocon, creating an all-French lineup in a team with strong, French origins.

The season started as it intended to finish; With mechanical issues, numerous penalties and frequent avoidable collisions, the year was marred by misfortune. Despite the A523’s inconsistency, there were rounds when both Ocon and Gasly shone. These Frenchmen provided us with some mighty drives over the course of the year, with each of them being rewarded in the form of podium appearances — we’ll get to these later.

Alpine’s strongest weekend was undoubtedly Monaco. Capitalising on an alternative strategy to the front runners, the team managed to place both drivers in points-paying positions to bring home a total of 21 points.

The backstage drama between Alpine’s senior management ruled their season, and ultimately, it was reflected on track. By the time the Belgian Grand Prix came around, CEO Laurent Rossi, Team Principal Otmar Szafnauer, Sporting Director Alan Permane and Technical Director Pat Fry had all left the company, putting immense spotlight on the team’s hierarchy. Without internal stability, how could we expect to see results on track?

To round off the year, Alpine finished the constructors championship in sixth place – their lowest position since 2017, when the Enstone-based team was known as Renault. Gasly ended his inaugural season in blue with a total of 62 points, marginally beating his teammate to an eleventh-place championship finish. Ocon’s 58 points hauled him to twelfth in the standings, proving impressive in such an eventful year. 

Beyond their final results, let’s review the duo’s ups and downs, to highlight how they really fared over the 2023 season.

Cumulative Rating: 5.55/10

Image Credit - Arnold Jerocki/FilmMagic

Esteban Ocon

Prior to the season commencing, Ocon was already on a backfoot. His winter training programme was impacted by a lung virus, which ultimately affected his fitness level and caused it to drop temporarily. 

However, Ocon knew he wanted to establish himself as the team’s leader — surely motivating his recovery in the hope of standing his ground against Alpine’s newest addition, Gasly.

Strengths: His fourth year with Alpine was far from the easiest, but Ocon did manage to showcase his strengths — most memorably, a third-place finish in Monaco. After home hero Charles Leclerc received a grid penalty, Ocon was lucky enough to start third on the track where qualifying is most important. 

Although tricky pit stops initially gifted his third-place to Mercedes’ George Russel, the Brit’s own mistakes amongst a rain-stricken Monte-Carlo promoted Ocon back to the podium – the third of his career.

Not only did the Frenchman demonstrate his ability to capitalise on others misfortune, but he proved versatile, and able to power through in the most unfavourable of conditions. 

Understandably, he earned himself the title of ‘Driver Of The Day’ for his respective performance, as voted for by fans.

Monaco sat amongst a small sprint of point-paying weekends: Miami, Spain, Canada and Austria’s sprint race, where he held off Leclerc, McLaren’s Lando Norris, and Mercedes’ George Russell by nine milliseconds. His impressive ‘elbows out’ approach sealed him a seventh place finish and provided us with some brilliant racing action.

Weaknesses: Austria’s main race is where the team’s cracks started to show and their weaknesses unfolded. After a penalty for Alpine’s unsafe release and four penalties for track-limit offences, a total of 30 seconds had been added to Ocon’s overall race time and he’d been demoted by two positions. 

This unpleasant event earned Ocon the record of ‘Most Driving Penalties in a Single Formula 1 Race’ — a statistic you’d be far from proud to receive. 

Ocon found himself bound by bad luck; Five more retirements followed, from first-lap scuffles to hydraulics leaks, eventful races restricted him from repeating his podium successes. However, his resilience continued; Ocon finished fourth in the inaugural Las Vegas Grand Prix to secure valuable constructors points, but apart from that, there was not much for the 27-year-old to celebrate.

Cumulative Rating: 5.94/10

Best Race: Monaco Grand Prix; Driving through the winding streets of Monaco, Ocon capitalised on his fortune, and kept the car on track during the treacherous weather, giving Alpine their first podium of the year as a result.

Image Credit - Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

Pierre Gasly

Gasly had nothing to lose – after driving an underperforming AlphaTauri, Alpine’s A523 would have been a much appreciated reward for cutting his ties with Red Bull. Whilst his multi-year contract offered him much needed stability, there is no doubt that Gasly wanted to establish himself against former karting rival, Ocon.

Strengths: His strengths were displayed from the beginning, turning last place into a ninth place finish during 2023’s season opener, the Bahrain Grand Prix. His good form should have carried through to Australia, where Gasly was running in fifth before a fiasco of red flags led to him colliding with his teammate and creating a dramatic double retirement. 

A particularly poignant event was his sprint-race podium in Belgium – although special for many reasons, it felt like a huge sigh of relief for the French outfit. Despite Team Principal Otmar Szafnauer’s imminent departure, Gasly had channelled the team’s uncertainty into something good.

The main race proved Spa’s unforgiving nature, but luckily, Gasly didn’t have to wait long to reach his next accomplishment. Alpine’s artful strategy alongside an early switch to intermediate tyres turned a twelfth-place starting position into a third-place podium finish – his first top-three in over two years.

Weaknesses: Where weaknesses are concerned, Gasly has been prone to collisions this season. Adding to the Australian joust with Ocon, an incident with Lance Stroll at the British Grand Prix, alongside his involvement in a multi-car pile up in Hungary only adds to the case. From broken suspensions to faulty floors, these events have no doubt been costly to Alpine. 

Cumulative Rating: 6.4/10

Best Race: Dutch Grand Prix; From 12th to 3rd place, Gasly drove with resilience and determination to stay within 5 seconds of Sergio Perez, in turn securing his spot on the podium.


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