Renault-owned Alpine launched its A523 Formula One car on Thursday with an all-French lineup of Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly tasked with a target of podiums, finishing fourth as a bare minimum and closing the gap to the top three.
Alpine managed to secure fourth overall in 2022 after a season-long battle with McLaren, but the 342-point gap between it and third-placed Mercedes left no illusions about the task ahead.
“The gap to third was big, and we’ve got to close that gap,” said team principal Otmar Szafnauer after the car was unveiled at a former newspaper printing site in London’s Docklands.
“To do so, we must develop at a higher rate than any other Formula One team out there...and that’s what we’re looking to do.”
Renault chief executive Luca de Meo said the French carmaker’s commitment was long-term, and he was optimistic about a trajectory that has seen the team move from fifth in 2021 to fourth in 2022.
“Maybe Esteban and Pierre can give us a couple of podiums,” he added.
Both drivers are race winners and have had a first taste of the car, which made its track debut in a private 100km shakedown run at Silverstone last Monday.
Ocon is in his fourth year at the team, while Gasly has joined from Red Bull-owned AlphaTauri as a replacement for departed double world champion Fernando Alonso, now at Aston Martin.
Australian Jack Doohan, son of motorcycle great Mick, will be the team’s official reserve driver while also racing in Formula Two.
The car, an evolution from its predecessor, will run in a full pink livery for the first three races in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Australia before switching back to Alpine’s blue colours.
The 23-race season starts at the Sakhir circuit on March 5, with pre-season testing there next week.
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