Pierre Gasly has endorsed Alpine’s new team structure and says signs of progress were already seen last year despite a raft of management changes behind the scenes.
Former team principal Otmar Szafnauer, sporting director Alan Permane, and chief technical officer Pat Fry all left the team for various reasons last summer, with the latter two joining Visa Cash App RB (formerly AlphaTauri) and Williams respectively.
Racing director Davide Brivio also moved on at the end of 2023, but despite the raft of backroom changes, Gasly says the team comes into this season upbeat after a somewhat stronger run in the second half of last year under Bruno Famin and sporting director Julian Rouse.
“I must say it’s been good,” Gasly said. “I think overall last year was just a disappointing season, we didn’t perform the way we wanted, but the second part of the season felt like it was slightly more maximized.
“There were definitely some changes and a big desire and drive to improve the potential within the team, and trying to drive that sort of mentality into the race pace and from what I’m seeing I’m really happy with the changes I’ve seen so far. The atmosphere is great, spirit is good and yeah, I’m in a great place as well, I just want to get behind the wheel and get a first feel for it.”
Teammate Esteban Ocon agreed, pointing out that the several months the team has had with its new structure stands it in good stead for this year.
“The mood in the team is good,” Ocon said. “I think you guys are going to see a lot of changes. Usually when things happen internally, when there is new roles in place, if you’re not inside the team it’s quite discreet, but when you arrive in the team now, you see how much things have changed.
“It hasn’t made the winter difficult, because that was in place since September so we knew who we would work with and the continuity of the long-term plan and improvements are beginning to bear fruit.”
Team principal Famin, who has been in the role since Szafnauer’s exit last July and intends to remain, says that getting the most out of the team’s existing staff will be key to moving Alpine forward this year.
“A good 2024 season will be first to see a good improvement in the way we work altogether at the factory, to be able to extract more from our talented people we have in Enstone and Viry,” Famin said. “If we are able to do that, we will be able to develop our car, which is a brand-new car.”
But it’s that brand-new car that the drivers say is a reason to keep expectations in check going into the new season. Alpine has adopted a new concept for its 2024 car, the A524, and Gasly stressed the need for patience.
“I feel like there’s a great atmosphere, good attitude, a good spirit in the team with a desire to improve and really move forward,” Gasly said. “It’s a great place — now we’ve got to see what we can do with the car. It’s a new concept, a pretty aggressive approach. We know already we started a new piece of paper and we’ll have to be patient with that car; there is potential but we’ll have to see where we stand in Bahrain.”
Ocon added that where the team starts is irrelevant — where it stands mid-season will be the key indicator.
“There’s going to be a lot of running to do in the beginning and we need to have a good plan of how to improve our car, because it doesn’t matter where we start exactly, it matters how we’re going to be a couple of races after,” he said.
“There could be a scenario where it’s not that easy. We’re not starting in the best shape because it’s a new concept, but we should be in a good place after.”