Alpine F1 bounces back with totally new, aggressive A524 | CAR Magazine

Alpine F1 bounces back with totally new, aggressive A524

Published: 08 February 2024 Updated: 08 February 2024

► New car is totally new – besides the steering wheel
► Work on balance has been key
► Alpine wants to develop aggressively throughout 2024.

You’re looking at the Alpine A524, the car VP of Alpine Bruno Famin hopes will get the Anglo-french team’s F1 offering back on track. Revolution more than evolution, it’s a significantly more aggressive car than the A521, but it needs to be: 2023 was not a gear for Alpine. Instead of closing the gap to third place, it fell to sixth, behind the slow-starting but highly-energised McLaren team as well as Aston Martin. 

Instead of closing the gap to third place in the constructors’ championship, Alpine  fell to X behind the slow-starting but highly energised McLaren team – and was even further behind from Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull. 

Alpine F1 front left

New from front to back

Rather than building on a flawed concept (we’re looking at you Brackley) Alpine decided to chuck everything out and start again.  ‘We decided to take very bold approach,’ said Matt Harman, the team’s technical director at the launch. ‘It’s a brand-new car from front to back, I think I think only the steering wheel survived. We’ve really tried to look at every single area of the car to make sure that we leave no stone unturned.’

Sharper, with a wide nose and even aggressive sidepods than the previous car, the A524 displayed is close to the one the team will be using in two weeks’ time at the Bahrain test; unlike most teams, Alpine didn’t want this to be a mere livery launch. Harman went on to explain just how hard the team have worked on the floor and bodywork – and the internal body work too. The new car will also benefit from more, track-specific parts than before. 

Alpine F1 rear three quarters

Constantly changing 

Alpine is keen to emphasis it’s nowhere near the limits of the car – and there’s still lots to be refined and extracted from its bold new concept. If McLaren taught the paddock anything last year, it’s that it’s not where you start, but where you finish. Although the Woking car was poor at the beginning of the year, it was arguably the second fastest by the end – and it’s this constant rate of in-season development Alpine is targeting.

‘We need give ourselves a car that can have can potential throughout the year,’ Harman agrees. ‘We plateaued a bit with the A523, and with this car, I think we have that potential.’

Alpine F1 front

What else was wrong with the A523? 

Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly will be hoping the new car is far more competitive than before, but they’ll be especially interested in the balance of the new car – as that was the main issue with last year’s car: ‘I think I think there’s been little bit of an issue with the balance of the car in general, that was not possible to fix’ Ocon tells us. 

‘There was always a part of the corner where we struggled with one axle, and we were never able to fix the whole radius of the corner,’ Ocon explains. ‘At times we had to take the corner in two goes – or three goes. And now we just want to arrive, brake, turn and do it in one go.’ 

Alpine F1 Ocon

‘I’m sure you know, with the new concept, this is what we’ve tacked. It’s going in the right direction in the simulator, but it needs to happen in reality,’ he said. 

And it seems Ocon’s teammate Gasly is asking for the same thing: ‘Even though we’ve got slightly different driving styles, we’re still asking for pretty much the same,’ says Gasly. ‘We have the same requirements for for the car. So it makes things quite a lot easier for the team. At least they know which directions they’re going to add to and what they’re going to provide us.’

What about 2026? 

The elephants in the room, though, are the 2026 regulations which will feature significant differences in the engine and chassis side – with the former rules already firmed up. 

Alpine F1 tip down

With that in mind, new Alpine VP Bruno Famin already has his sights set on 2026 on the powertrain side (with new sporting code additions prohibiting teams starting on the chassis in advance). What’s more, two new positions have been brought into manage the day-to-day in Viry and Enstone, and Famin has also improved the trackside operation at Alpine.

‘I’ve already one and a half eyes on 2026 because the project started quite a long time ago,’ Famin admits. ‘We have some guidelines for the new regulations, but we don’t have them yet – they’ll made mid-2024, as per the international sporting codes.’

And of course, we are well working together; Enstone, Viry analysing potential performance what will be the duty cycle, the profile of speed.’

With new rules already on the horizon – which represent an opportunity for OEMs that make the chassis and the powertrain – Alpine’s bold, untested 2024 concept can be seen as a calculated risk. With just two years of these rules left, and last year’s A523 a dud, Alpine’s best move was to hedge its bets, and work on the non-metal side, such as development culture and trackside operations in 2024 and 2025. 

By Curtis Moldrich

CAR's Digital Editor, F1 and sim-racing enthusiast. Partial to clever tech and sports bikes