After something of a turbulent year in F1, with a major shakeup of senior management, Alpine is hoping that 2024 will bring it greater success on multiple motorsport fronts. In a somewhat unusual move, the company chose to launch its latest F1 challenger – the A524 – and its A424 LMDh due to race in the WEC, at the same event.
Aggressive development path
F1 team technical director Matt Harman explained that the company’s 2024 F1 machine had followed a more aggressive approach than its predecessor. “We maxed out the potential on the A523 and so the A524 is completely new from front to back. We rigorously analyzed the key aerodynamic concepts that we wanted to move toward on this car to explore more aerodynamic freedom and better unlock these concepts to their full potential.”
One of the main limitations of the old car was that it appeared to have a very narrow operating window. “This was a weakness as it meant we were limited on what we could exploit with the car and there were very specific characteristics on where it thrived and where it did not. Therefore, for the A524, we aim to broaden this window as much as we can to give ourselves a better opportunity of maximizing its potential.”
According to Harman, the rear suspension is all new. The cooling system has also come in for heavy revision, which “gives us capacity to operate more efficiently at each event”.
Harman continued, “In addition, we have completed a lot of work on our brake system, in particular on the thermal management of the brakes as there is performance to extract from transmitting heat through the system.”
The floor and structures that feed it have been an area of intense development, still representing one of the most fruitful areas for gains under the current regulations. “By applying these changes, we are giving ourselves much wider scope to add performance across the next two seasons even if there has been some compromise on reaching certain targets, which we have pushed to the limit. We must keep pushing this dynamic development across all areas of the team.”
The team was able to undertake some experimental running of concepts for the 2024 car in 2023, which said Harman, “enabled us to highlight the areas in which we aim to improve the aerodynamics and vehicle dynamics of the car.”
Summing up the development of the launch spec car, Harman concluded, “The A524 approach has been aggressive but deliberate in the fact we are creating a wider scope to add performance to the car. We have really focused on learning and reacting to what we have learned rather than on results.”
Meanwhile, the A424 sees Alpine rejoin the highly competitive WEC field. The car is built to the LMDh rules and the team partnered with Oreca on chassis supply and Mecachrome for its 3.4-liter, single-turbo V6. This is derived from the same unit raced in F2 and F3, and which also saw brief sportscar duty with Ginetta. Alpine says that its powertrain team in Viry has been heavily involved in the development of the engine for endurance racing to improve its reliability – something it was sorely lacking in its last WEC outing.
According to Bruno Famin, VP of Alpine Motorsports, “The A424 has completed more than 15,000km with no significant problems disrupting our program, but now only the verdict on the track matters. Everyone involved is doing their utmost to ensure we are as ready as possible for Qatar, but we will approach the first race with the utmost humility.”
The main attraction of the current LMH rules is the ability to incorporate considerable brand identity into the cars without paying a performance penalty. “One of the crucial aspects of these regulations is that they allow us to have our racing prototype foreshadowing some features of our future road cars. We were able to take full advantage of this thanks to our design department teams,” said Alpine CEO Philippe Krief.
The A524 is due to make its track debut at the start of pre-season F1 testing in Bahrain on February 23. The A424 will run at the WEC Prologue in the same week in Qatar.
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