How Alpine is pinning hopes of F1 revival on new tools

Alpine finished sixth in the 2023 constructors’ championship after a mixed season that saw it log two podiums while struggling at some venues.

The team is investing heavily in new infrastructure, with a new simulator building on schedule to come online as the team ramps up the development of its 2026 car.

Helped by the extra spending capability other factory tools are also being upgraded, and Harman believes the changes will pay dividends in the short term.

«Our focus is very much on the future and the 2026 regulations as well as the cars that we need to do between now and then,» he said.

«We’ve also got a big programme at both sites [Enstone and Viry] to improve the capabilities and the functions – you will have seen this in CapEx equalisation topics that have gone on with the FIA.

«We’re fully funded to achieve those, we’re going to put all those pieces of equipment in, there’ll be alive and working to feed into the 2026 regulations. They will also be feeding into cars well before that.

«We’ve been focusing on our simulation tools, we need to be sharp, better at getting good answers to difficult questions more quickly. And I’ve experienced that in teams that I’ve worked at in the past. And that’s one of our capability improvements.

Pierre Gasly, Alpine A523

Photo by: Erik Junius

Pierre Gasly, Alpine A523

«So we’re doing all of those things. And the plan that we’ve had for the last three years from my perspective is unchanged, we’re just accelerating it. We’re well funded. We’ve got enough people, it’s just about getting on with it, getting our heads down.»

Harman stressed that the new simulator will be a major step for the team.

«It will be commissioned in readiness for 2026,» he said. «It’s a fantastic capability, we’re really excited about it, it’s going to sit in an absolutely massive building, which is going to help some other interesting developments as well.

«I’m very excited about it. What we have at the moment is a very, very good tool. But its resolution and bandwidth are just not quite there. And I think this is going to give the drivers just another level of confidence in the correlation of the simulator, which for ’26 is going to be so important.»

Harman concedes that the team hasn’t always been as successful as it could be at pinpointing and addressing fundamental issues, although he believes that it has made progress of late.

«It’s a process that we’re getting much better at, I think,» he said. «One of the things I’m very keen on is to be more precise in getting to the root causes of our problems. Under a cost cap is very, very tricky, if you don’t fully get to root causes.

«We can’t afford to try things out. Through simulation we’ve got to get that understanding in, we’ve got to try and get it right the first time. And then we make a change, and we evaluate it at the circuit.»

Esteban Ocon, Alpine A523

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

Esteban Ocon, Alpine A523

Harman admitted that at times the team has taken the wrong direction when reacting to data that wasn’t accurate enough.

«It has been a bit of a weakness,» he admitted. «Because when your tools aren’t quite sharp enough I think you can get to a point where you can start believing some of the things you see in the tools that you have around you.

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«And if you’re not very good at looping that, as I call it, if you’re not so good at just checking and double checking, and questioning yourself, I think you can come to the wrong conclusion, and you can take a direction that can live with you for six months.

«I think we’re getting better at that. And also, as I said earlier, the capabilities are improving. So the background tools themselves are getting much better.»

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