How to look back on the 2023 season for Alpine? Eventful would probably be the most apt description. From managerial shakeups, an influx of A-list backers and inconsistent results that left them sixth in the constructors’ standings, here is how their end of year report stacks up…
Esteban Ocon – 3rd in Monaco; Pierre Gasly – 3rd in the Netherlands
While Alpine’s season will have disappointed many within the team, they did enjoy two podium finishes in 2023 – while Gasly’s third place in the Sprint in Belgium also deserves an honourable mention.
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Ocon’s performance in Monaco will be fondly remembered, as that third place was the result of a thoroughly impressive showing across the weekend, having qualified fourth the previous day in the Principality.
Gasly also had a brilliant time in Zandvoort following F1’s return after the mid-season break. In what was a chaotic rain-hit race he was bumped up to third – after finishing fourth on the road – thanks to a pit lane speeding penalty for Red Bull’s Sergio Perez, to claim his first Grand Prix podium for Alpine.
It was a much-needed boost for the squad considering the events that had preceded that mid-season break, with Team Principal Otmar Szafnauer and Sporting Director Alan Permane leaving the team after the Belgian Grand Prix.
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Esteban Ocon 8-14 Pierre Gasly
In the summer break, the score here was neck-and-neck at six apiece, showing how much Gasly stepped up his qualifying performances during the second half of the year. Becoming more acclimatised at his new team could well have played a part, with a P5 in qualifying for the Las Vegas Grand Prix arguably the pick of the performances.
Both drivers claimed P4 qualifying finishes through the season – Ocon did so in Monaco, though this was later elevated to third on the grid after Charles Leclerc was demoted three places for impeding – while Gasly managed to grab P4 at the Spanish Grand Prix.
Esteban Ocon 10-9 Pierre Gasly
While Gasly takes the qualifying head-to-head, it’s Ocon who takes it on race day, though he did finish a place and four points behind his team mate in the drivers’ standings (Gasly 11th on 62 points while Ocon finished 12th on 58 points).
That, though, can also be put down to how extraordinarily unlucky Ocon has been during the season, racking up seven DNFs (the joint highest with Logan Sargeant). There was also a DNF in the Qatar Sprint for good measure.
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While Gasly himself managed to notch up three DNFs – let’s also not forget that one of those was the two team mates colliding in Australia – there were also moments where team orders were met with less than enthusiastic receptions. Gasly in particular was deeply unhappy in Japan when he was instructed to allow his team mate ahead of him in what ended up being a ninth and 10th-place finish.
‘I don’t fully understand it’ – Gasly baffled by team request to swap positions with Ocon late on at Suzuka
While Gasly’s third in Zandvoort and his third in the Sprint at Spa were undoubted highlights, you would still count Ocon’s podium and overall performance in Monaco as Alpine’s best moment of 2023.
His barnstormer of a lap on the Saturday put him in an ideal position for the race around those tight and twisty streets, and when Leclerc’s demotion kicked in, he made the most of that elevation up the order.
During the race, which was hit by rain, he was forced to use all of his defensive skills to keep Lewis Hamilton and George Russell behind and seal that final spot on the podium. And, let’s be honest, anything that ends with the shout of ‘Estie Bestie is on the podium baby!’ has our seal of approval.
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While there are some off-track contenders for this, again you have to look back at Gasly and Ocon’s race-ending collision in the Australian Grand Prix. The two crashed in dramatic circumstances in the late stages of the race, following a Safety Car restart, which left the pair without points for the team.
Considering this was just the third race of the season, there were plenty of questions over the dynamic of the new team mates. Gasly himself described it as the “worst scenario possible” for the pair in his recent appearance on Beyond The Grid.
“Honestly, it was tough,” he said. “On the flight back home, I was just sad because, to me, it was the third or fourth race of the season with the team, and I was fighting with the Ferrari, with the Mercedes.
“I had the podium in sight with Lewis [Hamilton] and Fernando [Alonso] a couple of seconds up the road, but it was a big result that would kick off your season on the right path. Flying out of Australia after all the work and the efforts with zero points was the worst scenario possible with both cars in the wall.”
2023 Australian Grand Prix: Chaos and multiple crashes on second restart sees race immediately stopped again
There has been plenty of managerial change at Alpine in 2023, with Bruno Famin still interim Alpine Team Principal having replaced Szafnauer following the Belgian Grand Prix. In July Laurent Rossi was also moved to ‘special projects’ with Philippe Krief succeeding him as CEO of the Alpine brand.
But the changes haven’t stopped there, as just last week Director of Racing Expansion Projects, Davide Brivio, also departed after three years with the operation. A stable managerial set-up would probably go a long way to helping Alpine next year.
Despite all of this, there’s bags of potential for the future, not least thanks to the vast collection of A-list backers Alpine have amassed this year. Hollywood actor Ryan Reynolds was part of a group of investors that provided a €200m cash injection into the organisation before, in October, the likes of Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, Anthony Joshua and Rory McIlroy – among many more – also came on board as investors. They even have footballing legend Zinedine Zidane as an Alpine ambassador.
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But ultimately the trick with Alpine next season will be to improve their consistency, something Ocon pointed to as the key factor that has seen them slip down the championship order in 2023.
Alpine have grand ambitions, and more regular finishes in higher positions will be the only way to show they are making progress. But one thing is for sure: they probably have the greatest collection of sporting stars to call upon for advice that F1 has ever seen…