Launched officially on Thursday, the car is very different to the A522, with new rear suspension among the changes, many of which are intended to help with a weight-saving programme that has put the car under the minimum limit.
The power unit department in Viry also focused on reliability over the winter after a series of frustrating issues in 2022.
“It’s a good evolution compared to last year,” said Ocon. “I’m a very mechanical guy, I like to get close to the bodywork, and close to the suspension side of things, and have a look deeply into how parts are made.
“And if I have to be honest, the 2022 car kind of looked like a toy, in comparison to what we have now.
“So, the level of details and how nice the parts are made, in terms of weight-saving, in terms of solutions in the cockpit and everything, everything looks like proper race car spec.
“It’s very impressive, I have to say, the details in everything, how the bodywork goes together and how all the parts are made. It’s very nice.
“And that’s first good for reliability, but second means that the team took a step up again. It was a step from ’21 to ’22. And now it’s a huge step again in ’23. So we’ll see if that translates to performance, but already it is it is a step. That’s what I can see.”
Esteban Ocon, Alpine
Photo by: Alpine
At Thursday’s launch, team principal Otmar Szafnauer said Alpine had to repeat its fourth place in the world championship but be close to those ahead, and also target podium finishes.
Ocon pointed out that the team wasn’t far off the latter achievement last year.
“It was close,” he said. “We finished fourth in Japan, fifth in Red Bull Ring. There was not a lot missing, and with a worse car in 2021 we won a race, and we finished third in one. So everything’s possible.
“But yes, as a target itself it can sound similar to say we want to finish fourth, but the gap from fourth to third is huge, at the moment it was about 300 points or something, in the constructors’.
“If we can be fourth but try and get much closer to third, and maybe fight for third, that’s a completely different dimension. You enter into top five finishes, into podium territories.
“So obviously, it’s a very high target that we’re setting ourselves, continuing the regulations, but we have to set ourselves that target.
“We’re very ambitious, we are competitors, that’s what we want to achieve. But in F1, everything can happen. And we hope there’s going to be surprises.”
Asked if the car could win races, he added: “Realistically, I don’t think that’s where we set ourselves. Obviously, if we put the car in Bahrain, and it’s super performing, we can speak after Bahrain, yes.
“At the moment, I don’t think that is realistic. But we’ll see. There could be surprises in F1. We’ve seen it in the past, we were not expecting the Brawn to be a winning car in 2009.”