F1 technical updates: 2023 Azerbaijan GP
Alpine has brought a number of development pieces to the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, though it’s unclear how many of the new parts may have been damaged in Pierre Gasly’s fiery stoppage during practice.
The Alpine A523 is sporting an upgrade package comprising a new floor as well as new front and rear suspension that the team hopes will haul it closer to Ferrari, Mercedes and Aston Martin. It’s also equipped with circuit-specific low-drag front and rear wings designed to tackle the high-speed Baku straights.
Speaking before the practice hour, Alpine technical director Matt Harman said the floor represented a significant step forward in the team’s thinking about its aerodynamic concept.
“It’s a little bit of a departure in some areas,” he said. “It’s pretty much across the whole floor, really. There’s some redistribution of geometry you won’t be able to see — unless the car’s upside down — which is quite important also.
“It’s quite a different pressure distribution for the floor. It’s pretty extensive. It’s not a single part in a modular floor, it’s the whole floor.
“It’s just pure performance. It’s just total load we’re putting on the car.”
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The team was ambitious to bring a significant update given the single hour available for practice, and its worst fears must have been realized when Gasly’s car caught fire and stopped after only seven laps. Teammate Esteban Ocon was held in his garage after eight laps as a precaution while the team identified the cause of the issue, which early indications suggested was a hydraulic leak.
Oscar Piastri’s revised McLaren MCL60. Mark Sutton/Motorsport Images
Much focus is also on McLaren’s upgrade this weekend, with the team saying the car presented in Baku is the one it had hoped to start the season with.
It’s listed only new floor geometry that “significantly alters local suction distribution” as a performance update, although changes to the rear wing and beam wing have also been made specifically for Azerbaijan’s low-downforce demands.
McLaren principal Andrea Stella has said a B-spec upgrade is due before the August break and another significant round of upgrades is scheduled for the autumn.
Subtle changes for Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes F1 W14. Mark Sutton/Motorsport Images
Among the front-runners, Mercedes has been the most active in updating its car, bringing a “subtle” new rear wing endplate, lower deflector behind the rear axle and front suspension as well a circuit-specific change to the front brake ducts to help with cooling.