Otmar Szafnauer bullish over Alpine upgrades, anticipates Mercedes battle

The French manufacturer has scored points in both races so far in 2023.

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Alpine team principal, Otmar Szafnauer, believes the upcoming upgrades to their car can see them challenge Mercedes in the Formula 1 teams championship.

Pierre Gasly has finished both races so far in 2023 in ninth place and after a penalty-ridden Bahrain Grand Prix, Esteban Ocon made it a double points finish in Saudi Arabia.

Those results see Alpine in fifth in the standings, but some way off Ferrari and Mercedes.

Impending updates which are due on the car for the Azerbaijan GP are set to make the Alpine cars much faster, and Szafnauer couldn’t hide his optimism.

“We think we can fight with them (Mercedes),” Szafnauer told the media. “We do have a decent-sized upgrade coming for Baku and then a little bit more only a week later in Miami.

“We continue to push the upgrades out but the important thing is to make sure that they work when we put them on the car and we have good correlation with our simulation tools.

“I think we’ll take the development fight to the others over the course of the season.”

Give Gasly time

Two points finishes in a row is a fantastic start to life outside the Red Bull family for Gasly, but he insists that he needs a few more races to get engrained with his new car and teammates.

Szafnauer detailed a conversation with the Frenchman after the race in Jeddah, where his new driver even asked for more time before being judged in any way as he learns a new way of doing things.

“He’s new and it does take time, but he is enjoying the team,” Szanfnauer continued. “He likes his engineering team and the mechanics and we like him.

“He’s fast but it will take time to eek every little bit out of the car. I spoke to him after the last race and he said ‘give me a couple more races because there are a couple more tenths in me’.”

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