behind the scenes of Alpine, the 100% Norman racing team

Normandy, land of Formula 1? Two pilots: Pierre Gasly de Bois-Guillaume and Esteban Ocon, the Ebroïcien born in 1996 a few kilometers from each other, are in charge of making the Alpine shine on the circuits, but a whole anthill of ultra-specialists is accompanied .

“Two drivers in Formula 1, in a French and Norman team, that’s a miracle!”, exclaimed Didier Blot, former coach of Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly. The latter just joined his former partner and rival in Alpine. The team has not hidden its ambitions thanks to this winning duo for the future and next season. While waiting to return to the slopes, we entered the team in Dieppe, but also in England and in the Paris region, where ultra-specialists carry out specialist work.

Formula 1 is the most popular motor sport in the world. Only a few manufacturers and drivers can enter the very closed circle of F1 and write its history. Recently, the good history of F1 is with Norman Pierre Gasly a native of Bois-Guillaume near Rouen and Esteban Ocon the Ebroïcien were both born in the same year. The two pilots are the colts of Alpine on the circuits. Since 2021, the Diepp brand of the Renault group has become the French giant’s sporting standard. This stable with 100% Norman DNA has exceptionally opened its doors to us…

Once upon a time… Esteban Ocon from Evreux, and Pierre Gasly from Rouen… Two little Normans who together fell into the car racing cauldron… First of all wheel to wheel, in their kart, they will climb on the stairs … and finish on the podiums. Although sometimes a little distant, each follows his career, “they are incredibly similar and great in a single sitting”, according to Laurent Rossi, CEO of Alpine. Now it’s time for a reunion under the Alpine colors. The rest of the story remains to be written…

Last year, Esteban Ocon was 8ᵉ and Pierre Gasly was 14th overall. This new season, the first grand prix will take place on March 5, 2023 in Bahrain. It is under the same banner that the track brothers will start with their high-tech racing cars. Alpine doesn’t hide its ambition. It has given itself 100 grand prizes to win the highest title… Let’s dream that in 2025 a fully French team can take pride of place in F1… But this beautiful facade is just the face of the Prestigious medal stable, there are many more team members working in France but also on the other side of the Channel…

The team is certainly tri-coloured, but the knowledge is more to be found across the Channel, and more specifically in Enstone, a small town in Oxfordshire. This peaceful countryside hosts most of the elite factories, including Alpine. This is where chassis are refined and drivers prepare for their races. Esteban Ocon also takes advantage of a session in an ultra-realistic simulator to prepare for the next grand prix. This highly confidential component is important for engineers who are always looking for the perfect setting.

Thanks to the accumulated data, we are able to reproduce exactly in the simulator what we see on the track

Josh Peckett, Esteban Ocon Race Engineer

For Ocon, “The best preparation is to do as many kilometers as possible in the simulator before free practice, to test both the driver and the technical team”. Laurent Rossi, CEO of Alpine, called the pilots of “steering directors”, “They don’t just drive and cross the finish line, but provide constant feedback on the car’s performance.”

At the Enstone technical centre, 800 employees of around twenty nationalities are hard at work designing, developing and manufacturing the chassis for the Alpine team’s two Formula 1 cars. Each year, the site produces the 25,000 parts needed to build a single-seater. Every detail counts to save a few hundreds of seconds, such as the steering wheel, the drivers’ on-board computer.

If the pilot is comfortable behind the wheel, we can expect to make a very good start

Sam Merry, Electronic Technician at the Alpine F1 team

Aerodynamics, weight, resistance are at the heart of the Alpine teams’ concerns. But performance also applies to safety, which has remained a priority for the federation and manufacturers since 1994 and the death of Ayrton Senna. The latest generation of robots is not beyond human hands. Knowledge and hammering remain essential in shaping unique pieces. Esteban Ocon is well aware of this incredible teamwork when he told us: “We cannot fail, we must shine all the people who offer us this beautiful weapon”. The other centerpiece of racing cars is of course the engine! And then we have to go back home.

In France in Viry-Chatillon, in the Paris region, our team discovered another design center dedicated to the performance of the Alpine team. 400 people work there to build engines for F1 cars. The factory produces around fifty F1 engines per year. According to International Automobile Federation regulations, only 3 can be used per team car to win all the Grand Prix of a season. Engine manufacturers are now leading a new race: endurance….

A Formula 1 engine must do as many kms as an engine that wins the 24 Hours of Le Mans

Bruno Famin, executive director of the Alpine factory in Viry-Châtillon

To last at least 6,000 km per season at high intensity, the machines are tested before, during and after each race. The factory has several types of test benches that allow its resistance to be proven in conditions of cold, rain and heat. “Sometimes we take the pieces apart to understand what happened and find solutions”, said Benjamin Bruel, test engineer. These technology concentrates can bring F1 to more than 350Km/h. The 1.6-liter engine is no bigger than a small sedan, but is capable of delivering 1,000 horsepower.

4ᵉ in the manufacturer’s ranking in 2022, Alpine is now counting on its 2 French drivers to reach a new level. On February 16, Alpine will unveil its single-seater for 2023 in London: the A523. wait a little longer…..

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