Alpine’s strong ‘skeleton’ has helped him create an F1 car that beats McLaren

The Enstone-based team has unleashed an intense development drive on its A522 that has seen it come out ahead in the battle for the best of the rest behind Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes.

He is currently 24 points clear of McLaren in the fight for fourth place in the constructors’ championship, and is still hoping for further aerodynamic improvements for the remainder of the campaign.

Alpine technical director Matt Harman has revealed that the speed at which it has been able to deliver improvements to its car has been aided by its deliberate focus on producing a platform with its 2022 challenger that gave its designers the most freedom to provide aerodynamic steps.

This effectively revolved around the power unit packaging and other mechanical elements, including the suspension, gearbox and radiators, to ensure they don’t get in the way of what the team wants to do with the car’s aerodynamics.

“We worked incredibly hard for a number of years before these regulations started putting new technology into our race car,” said Harman.

“What he’s done, he’s given us a really strong backbone, a good skeleton in the car. We have very efficient technologies there.

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“That allows us to focus on our aerodynamic requirements and our mechanical performance elements to make sure we can make progress, so we’re in a good place at the moment.”

Harman said the freedom aerodynamicists have means Alpine is in a position where its progress is only limited by ideas.

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“The initial intention for our race car for this year was that we just wanted to make sure it allowed for aerodynamics,” he said.

Esteban Ocon, Alpine A522

Esteban Ocon, Alpine A522

Photo by: Alpine

“It’s about making sure that every aspect of the car supports or promotes aerodynamic volume. And that is what we have done.

“Every single technology we put into the car is to make sure we give our aerodynamics the maximum amount of real estate to express themselves.

“And I think you can see that there is nothing standing in the way for our aerodynamicists. It is only our own ideas that limit us at this time. So it’s an important philosophy and I think it’s allowing us to move forward.”

Sporting director Alan Permane, who has been at Enstone for decades, reckons the way the team is working with Renault on power unit integration is better than it has been for a while.

“Matt spends a really decent amount of time in Viry [Renault’s F1 engine base] working closely with those guys,” he said.

“Certainly on the track, we’ve always had a good relationship with them.

“I suspect that in the very distant past, we might have been guilty of being two teams or them saying this is the power unit. Not so at all now.

“It is not designed by Enstone in any way. But it’s designed in collaboration with them, certainly in terms of architecture, where the parts go and that sort of thing.

“So it’s a very strong relationship.”

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