Otmar Szafnauer believes Alpine will make a clear step forward in 2023 if it fixes its power unit reliability issues, even if its outright car performance stays at a similar level compared to its rivals.
Alpine finished fourth in the constructors’ championship ahead of McLaren, winning that particular battle by 14 points but finishing over 340 adrift of Mercedes in third place. Team principal Szafnauer believes the primary focus during the off-season has to be improvements when it comes to the reliability of the power unit, given the eight retirements suffered through the year.
“I think fourth is probably where we deserve to be,” Szafnauer said. “We should have had a few more points than we do, we had some reliability issues so not really on performance, and I look forward to fixing those next year because they’re allowed to be fixed from a powertrain perspective. You can make those changes.
“We should have a more reliable powertrain next year even though some of the issues we had weren’t really with the powertrain, they were with the ancillary bits. We have to redesign those and fix them.”
While Szafnauer says Alpine needs to prioritize its power unit amid the restrictions of the regulations, he also wants to ensure Pierre Gasly’s arrival in place of Fernando Alonso will allow the team to continue scoring regularly with both cars after the team clearly outperformed McLaren on that front this year.
“I think if we can do that with the powertrain being frozen – and I have every confidence that we will – then I think we’ll naturally score more points,” he said. “Had we been reliable all year, you probably heard Fernando say ‘I’d be 60 points down the road’ or whatever it is. I don’t know how many it is but it’s definitely a significant amount, double digits, so instead of (14) points ahead we could be 70 ahead, something like that.
“So if we just do that and the performance level stays relatively the same we should be further up the road. But we also want to take a step in performance, and it’s harder to do on the powertrain because it’s frozen, so you have to do it by understanding the chassis, doing a better job on chassis engineering, having two drivers that can continually score. So that’s our focus.”