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

Normandy, the land of Formula 1? Two pilots: Pierre Gasly de Bois-Guillaume and Ebroïcien Esteban Ocon, born a few kilometers apart in 1996, are responsible for making the Alps shine in circuits, but they were accompanied by an anthill of ultra-specialists.

“Two drivers in the French and Norman team in Formula 1, it’s a miracle!”, ex-coach of Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly exclaims Didier Blot. The latter has just joined his former teammate and rival at Alpine. The team does not hide its ambitions for the future and next season thanks to this winning duo. While waiting to return to the slopes, we were able to access the team in Dieppe, but also in England and in the Paris area where ultra-specialists do expert 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. F1 has a wonderful recent history with Norman Pierre Gasly, a native of Bois-Guillaume near Rouen, and Esteban Ocon the Ebroïcien were born in the same year. The two pilots are the foals of the Alps. Since 2021, the Diepp brand of the Renault group has become the sports standard of the French giant. This stable with 100% Norman DNA has opened its doors to us in an exceptional way…

Once upon a time…Esteban Ocon of Evreux and Pierre Gasly of Rouen…Two little Normans who fell together in a car racing cauldron…They will go from wheel to wheel first and climb the ladder in their karts. … and finish on the podium. Although sometimes a little distant, each follows his own career, “They are incredibly similar and efficient in a single seat,” According to Laurent Rossi, CEO of Alpine. Now is the time to reunite under the colors of the Alps. The rest of the story remains to be written…

Last year, Esteban Ocon was 8th and Pierre Gasly 14th overall. The first grand prix in this new season will be held on March 5, 2023 in Bahrain. Under the same banner, the track brothers will set off with high-tech racing cars. Alp does not hide his ambition. He gave himself 100 grand prizes to claim the top title… Let’s hope that by 2025 an all-French team can take pride of place in F1… But this pretty facade is just the face of the Prestige Stabile medal, in France , as well as many other members of the team working across the Channel…

The team is certainly a tricolor, but the know-how is based mainly in Enstone, a small town in Oxfordshire, across the Channel. This peaceful village is home to most of the factories of the elite stables, including the Alps. It is here that chassis are fine-tuned and drivers are prepared for their races. Esteban Ocon also takes advantage of a session in the ultra-realistic simulator to prepare for the next grand prix. This top-secret piece is essential for engineers who are always looking for the perfect setting.

Thanks to the collected data, we can accurately repeat what we observed on the track in the simulator.

Josh Peckett, Esteban Ocon Race Engineer

for Ocon, “The best preparation is to cover as many kilometers as possible in the simulator before free practice, to test both the driver and the technical staff”. Alpine CEO Laurent Rossi calls the pilots “steering directors”, “They don’t just drive the car across the finish line, they provide constant feedback on the car’s performance.”

At the Enstone technical center, 800 employees from nearly two dozen nationalities are engaged in the design, development and production of chassis for the Alpine team’s two Formula 1 cars. Each year, the site produces 25,000 parts needed to build a single seat. Every detail, such as the steering wheel, the drivers’ on-board computer, is important to save hundredths of a second.

If the pilot is comfortable at the wheel, we can hope to make a very good start

Sam Merry, Alpine F1 Team Electronics Technician

Aerodynamics, weight, resistance are at the heart of Alpine teams’ concerns. But performance is also about safety, which has remained a priority for the federation and manufacturers since 1994 and the death of Ayrton Senna. The latest generation of robots has not held a human hand. Know-how and hammers remain essential to shaping unique pieces. Esteban Ocon knows this incredible teamwork well when he tells us: “we cannot disappoint, we must enlighten all the people who offered us this wonderful weapon”. Another central part of racing cars is of course the engine! And then we have to go home.

It was in France, in Viry-Châtillon in the Paris region, that our team discovered another design center dedicated to Alpine team performance. 400 people work there to make engines for F1 cars. The plant produces about fifty F1 engines a year. According to the rules of the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile, only 3 cars can be used in each team’s car to achieve all the Grands Prix of a season. Engine manufacturers are now leading a new race: endurance racing….

A Formula 1 engine must travel at least as many kilometers as the engine that wins the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

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

Engines are analyzed before, during and after each race to drive at least 6,000 km per season at high intensity. The factory has several types of test benches that allow you to check its resistance in cold, rainy and hot conditions. “Sometimes we break the pieces to understand what’s going on and find solutions,” Test engineer Benjamin Bruel says. These technology concentrates can carry F1 to a speed of more than 350 km/h. The 1.6-liter engine is no bigger than a small sedan, but it has 1,000 horsepower.

4ᵉ in the manufacturer’s ranking in 2022, Alpine now relies on 2 French drivers to reach a new level. On February 16, Alpine will unveil the 2023 single-seater A523 in London. A little more patience…

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