Alpine explain key A523 changes · RaceFans

Last year, Alpine's A522 showed promise, including a front row appearance at the Canadian Grand Prix.

The car was quick enough to finish comfortably fourth in the Constructors' Championship, but they ended up winning in a tough battle with McLaren, largely due to points lost due to reliability issues.

On the launch of its successor, the A523, the technical director said the team had “set themselves some aggressive targets” for improvements in 2023. correct level. “

The team focused not only on the reliability issues encountered, but also on suspension and aerodynamic changes aimed at improving the car's efficiency. Faced with the same weight-cutting problem that the entire grid is grappling with, Alpine claims to have succeeded and keep the A523 below the minimum weight limit of 798kg.

Front fenders and suspension

Alpine A523 Conventional Livery, 2023
Alpine A523 front wing and nose

Harman said the changes to the front of the car were mostly structural and aimed at allowing the team to more successfully fine-tune its setup.

“We start the front of the car with the main plane of the front wing. We've worked very extensively on the concept of changing the nose here. There's a very different structure here that gives us more freedom to change more elements of the front wing, It's faster in particular and allows us to more consistently control the airflow into the front suspension area.”

The A523's front suspension has been revised to improve the way it directs airflow to the floor intakes, which is why the current car generates a lot of downforce.

“The front suspension controls are exactly the same as the A522, but the kinematics work differently than the A522,” Harman said. “We've changed the position of the wishbone quite a bit – again, to help relieve the pressure that's flowing through that area, to make sure we're presenting the air in the right stance at the front of the floor, to make sure we can balance the flow over the top of the floor and into the The amount of airflow into the front fence by the diffuser itself.

“We've been controlling the mass flow distribution between what's going to the rear of the car and what's being washed outside.”

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Floor and side boxes

Alpine's launch images show little floor detail

Twelve months after the introduction of substantially revised aerodynamic regulations, Harman said there was still plenty of room for improvement in floor area.

“It will be quite a hunting ground for us throughout the season as we want to continue with a very aggressive pace of car development,” he said. “We made considerable progress in this last year and we will do it again this year.”

The channels in the Alpine sidepods that appeared on last year's car are much deeper than before. “As you can see, there's a deep gully where we're trying to improve energy in the rear of the car by getting a lot of air flow to the rear of the car, which is where we put a lot of the load.”

Controlling airflow at the furthest extent of the floor is another area where the team hopes to achieve results. “You'll also see a lot of improvement on the edge of the court,” Harman said. “That's another thing that's been really important to us because we've developed the floor and we've tried to control some of the structure there.”

Like all teams, Alpine has also had to digest technical regulation amendments introduced by the FIA ​​to reduce the “dolphin” seen by some cars last year. Like some of their competitors, Alpine found that this didn't stop them from finding more downforce.

“The FIA ​​changed some regulations for us, which is very good for them,” he said. “It actually meant we needed to raise the floor a little bit, which took some of the load off the rear of the car, but we recovered quickly. Our aerodynamics department was really good at recovering that and we've now accelerated that.”

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rear suspension

Alpine A523 rear suspension

Harman says Alpine made “significant changes” to the rear suspension. “We've changed the concept—we've gone from pull-rod rear suspension to push-rod.”

The difference between the two can be seen by comparing the above rendering with the fleet's previous car below. This is done “for a number of different reasons,” Harman said.

“First of all, we need to reduce the weight of the car, we did have a very interesting concept last year, but this one is even more interesting,” he explained. “It’s a little easier to use pushrods and it allows us to take a lot of weight off the rear of the car.

“Also, we're putting more complexity into the inboard system so our track engineering team has more modularity. We need to give them the tools to set the mechanical balance of the car, and that's what they're doing. own.

“But most importantly, we control the airflow through here. It's cleaner and less clogged, so we can get more air out of the back of the car. It will be a great development.”

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Pierre Gasly, Alpine, Yas Marina, 2022 playoff test
Pierre Gasly, Alpine, Yas Marina, 2022 playoff test


Alpine A523 Conventional Livery, 2023
Alpine A523 Conventional Livery, 2023

Another efficiency change occurs at the rear of the car. “We have a few spoilers throughout the year as we race different races, but it’s all about efficiency,” Harman said.

“So we're trying to make sure that we have a similar or more load at the tail, but it's much more efficient – so there's less drag. The way we do this is by optimizing the spar wing in the lower part of the tail, which allows us to make sure we're lowest drag in a car.”

reduce weight

A common challenge for all teams is the need to reduce weight. Last year, many of them stripped the paint off their cars to save weight.

Feature: One team swimming against the tide with darker livery and hoping others follow suit

The minimum weight limit for the new season remains at 798kg. Still, many teams showed cars with more unpainted areas, allowing them to save weight.

Alpine showed their A523 in two different liveries, both of which mixed painted and unpainted areas. Herman said the team's weight loss efforts were successful.

“We need to reduce the weight of the car,” he said. “We have a very aggressive weight reduction program and it's great to be able to say the car will be lighter this year.”

Being below the limit meant they had to add weight to get to it, but they were free to use it to improve the car's handling.

“We'll have counterweight in the car and move it around to optimize weight distribution, and it's also a great performance tool for us and our track engineering team,” he said.

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Powerplant reliability and cooling

When Fernando Alonso's car broke down in thick smoke during pre-season testing last year, it was a sign of things to come. Alpine's season was marred by reliability issues, mainly due to the power unit. Alonso bears the brunt of the decision to leave the team mid-season.

Fernando Alonso, Alpine, Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, 2022
Reliability issues angered Alonso last year

Solving this problem was naturally the focus of the Renault Engines teams at Alpine and Viry-Chatillon. “We knew we had some issues with this area of ​​the A522 in the way we integrated it into the car, and that gave us some issues not being able to finish the race,” Harman said.

“We worked together with my colleague Bruno on this [Famin, engine chief] And his team at Viry made sure we got reliability back and we gave ourselves the best chance to make sure we got through these races.

“We've actually run the car on a full powertrain dyno configuration recently and done a lot of miles, which is basically where we run the whole car on the dyno and check it out. That's very, very good. We are confident in the great work we have done together, and the collaboration is already showing some great benefits.”

Engine specifications have been frozen since early last year unless changes are required by the team to improve reliability. However, Alpine has been able to improve the interaction between the engine and the rest of the car, resulting in a performance boost.

“We also looked at changing some of the components that affect the aerodynamics. For example, the heat dissipation system – the cooling system, it's probably better known.

Alpine A523 Conventional Livery, 2023
Alpine aims to return to the podium this year

“We've taken some of the cooling that we'd normally use on the centerline, and we've reduced that because we want to try and control some of the mass flow to the rear of the car. Normally, we'd only take up so much face area, It then sits in the sidebox, but actually the team has worked very aggressively to make this system more efficient.

“So we’ve actually removed it from there, but we didn’t put it here – we made the system smaller. Also, we’ve managed to lower the plenum temperature of the engine, which again provides a We bring not only an aerodynamic advantage, but also more crank power.”

Alpine need to take a major step forward in order to reach the same level of performance as the three teams ahead of them last year. But addressing those reliability issues should at least help them capitalize on their previous drama, which they so often failed to do last year, and occasionally provide the podium that Renault chief Luca de Meo has said he would like to see. .

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