Alpine bringing a major upgrade for Esteban Ocon at the F1 Chinese Grand Prix

Alpine’s continue effort to improve their 2024 challenger will take a big step at this weekend’s Formula 1 Chinese Grand Prix.

For one of their drivers.

As noted in the team’s media preview, Alpine is bringing a major upgrade to this weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix, the first time the grid has been to Shanghai since the 2019 season. “The team has been working extremely hard and we have been able to bring an upgrade to one car this weekend, one race earlier than planned. Next up is the return to Shanghai this weekend for the first Sprint event of the season,” said Team Principal Bruno Famin in the team’s media preview.

As was reported by RaceFans, the team is bringing a new floor for Esteban Ocon’s A524. According to the reporting from RaceFans, the team will “alternate which driver receives new parts first when only one example is available,” and teammate Pierre Gasly can expect a new floor for the Miami Grand Prix in a few weeks.

Famin outlined the uphill battle ahead of the team following the Japanese Grand Prix.

“The last race in Japan underlined how big a challenge we have on our hands to improve our performance level. We must develop the performance of the car in order to fight for higher positions,” continued the Alpine boss. “The level must be raised across all areas so we can get ourselves out of this difficult moment. While it was good to bring the first updates to the car in Suzuka, we must do more.”

According to Famin, both drivers were at the factory following the Japanese Grand Prix, preparing for the circuit’s return to Shanghai.

“It has been five years since Formula 1 raced in China. That’s a long time in Formula 1 and that will bring some unique challenges to all teams and drivers this weekend. The cars are completely different to the 2019-spec, so preparation has been different to normal. It’s a good track with long straights, some very long corners, which, in the past, has brought high tyre degradation,” noted Famin. “Matched with the fact it is a Sprint event, we have less preparation and therefore it is crucial to be dialled in from the get-go. Both drivers were in Enstone last week on the simulator and putting the time in to be best ready for the challenge.”

For Ocon — who was a reserve driver for Mercedes during the 2019 Chinese Grand Prix — this weekend feels like visiting a new track.

“This weekend feels a little bit like going to a new circuit, as it has been five years since Formula 1 last raced in China,” outlined Ocon in the team’s media preview. “I was on the simulator at Enstone last week, working hard with the engineers to prepare for the weekend, especially given it’s a Sprint weekend with less track time for practice. It was nice to familiarise ourselves with the track and evaluate a variety of different set-up options.

“The track in Shanghai has an interesting mix of low, medium, and high-speed corners, as well as having a kilometre-long back straight. Therefore, there’s naturally a compromise between downforce for corning, versus reducing drag in a straight line,” continued Ocon. “Shanghai is a circuit that I like to drive, and it’s a place I’ve had some good battles at in the past. It’s nice to be going back to China, and I’m looking forward to seeing the Chinese fans again in the grandstands!”

For his part Gasly — who finished in the points during the last Chinese Grand Prix and even posted the fastest lap in the race while driving for Red Bull — is looking forward to returning to Shanghai.

“I’m looking forward to going back to China after five years away. The track is quite unique as it has long straights and some very long corners,” outlined Gasly. “There are many challenges and it will be interesting to see the conditions of the track given it’s been so many years since Formula 1 has raced there. And it is a Sprint Weekend, the first of the year, and the first with a slightly new format, so we will be looking to maximise any opportunities, which present themselves.

“We have to be on it straight away right from the very first Practice session in order to boost our chances over the race weekend. Our main focus is to keep on pushing as hard as we can, stay focused and motivated to catch up to the rest of the field.”

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