Improved Alfa Romeo Car Shows Promise Ahead of 2023 F1 Season
Alfa Romeo had a successful 2022 start, but its car had rear-end instability issues. Bottas noticed significant stability improvements in high-speed corners in the 2023 car.
Despite Alfa Romeo experiencing a relatively successful first part of the 2022 Formula 1 season, their car was hindered by a noticeable flaw.
Valtteri Bottas was able to qualify in the top eight for five out of his first six Alfa Romeo starts due to the car’s strong performance in low-speed corners. However, in higher-speed sections, the car experienced some instability in the rear-end, which affected its overall performance.
Following his first full run in the 2023 car, Bottas noticed a significant improvement in the car’s stability in high-speed corners – an area where they struggled in the previous year.
Bottas noted on the opening day of testing that the car’s rear end had significantly improved in stability, particularly in high-speed corners. By the end of testing, he could measure the progress achieved.
When asked about the difference in balance from low to high speed in the 2023 car, Bottas responded that it was much better than the previous year. However, he noted that there was still a slight tendency for the car to feel neutral in high-speed corners, while remaining stable in low-speed corners.
Despite this difference, Bottas estimated that the overall improvement in stability was around 50% better than the previous year, providing the team with more options for car set-up.
Although Alfa Romeo’s 2023 car features sidepods that clearly show Red Bull’s influence, the design was not simply a copy of the dominant team’s design. The sidepod redesign was part of a broader overhaul of the car’s rear end, which also involved introducing a new gearbox casing and making changes to the rear suspension layout.
These changes could not be implemented earlier due to limitations with the cooling arrangements in the 2022 car. During the launch of Alfa Romeo’s 2023 car, Technical Director Jan Monchaux explained the significant effort put into addressing the car’s rear-end issues.
According to Jan Monchaux, Alfa Romeo’s Technical Director, the team’s main focus was on the rear part of the car, with the aim of taking a bold step forward in terms of pure development. This approach enabled the team to explore various solutions that were not possible with the previous year’s car.
The concept used in the previous year had reached a plateau in terms of performance, and in order to unlock the next level of performance, the team had to make all the changes to the car’s rear-end design.
Jan Monchaux further explained that the changes made to the car’s rear-end design were a significant undertaking, involving the redevelopment of complex, large parts. The team placed a great deal of effort on this aspect of the car, with the aim of improving overall performance. Meanwhile, the front-end of the car will continue to evolve over the course of the season.
Alfa Romeo managed to post some impressive lap times during testing, with Zhou Guanyu topping the leaderboard on Friday and Bottas recording the third-fastest lap of the entire week on Saturday.
However, these times were not necessarily an indication that the team will be a serious contender for pole position at the Bahrain Grand Prix. Instead, it is likely that the team’s testing program was more aggressive than some of its rivals, which allowed it to produce eye-catching lap times.
Valtteri Bottas did not exude an overtly confident or boastful attitude, but there was a sense of quiet satisfaction about him.
He seemed to understand that it was premature to make any definitive judgements about the team’s performance before the season had even begun. Nonetheless, Bottas was convinced that the team’s car had improved in the areas that were most crucial for its success.
Bottas expressed that the most important aspect for him was the feeling he had with the car, and he was able to sense that the team had successfully made the improvements they were aiming for in the 2023 car.
Bottas noted that the stability of the car had significantly improved, which provided him with more confidence when driving.
The team did not experience any significant limitations during testing, and although it was necessary to find a compromised balance for the particular track they were testing on, there were no fundamental issues with the car. Bottas felt that the team had managed to develop a good set-up for the car over the three days of testing, making it enjoyable to drive.
It is ironic and surprising that Alfa Romeo had a strong start to the 2022 racing season, considering that their winter testing had been messier than most.
The team had experienced some porpoising problems, which caused damage and necessitated ad hoc fixes, resulting in a time-consuming process.
Indeed, it is even more ironic that after a troubled winter testing period, Alfa Romeo managed to achieve prolific points-scoring in the early stages of the 2022 season, only for their performance to deteriorate in the second half.
As the team left the Canadian Grand Prix in June, it was closing in on McLaren and Alpine’s battle for fourth place in the constructors’ championship. However, the team only managed to score three more points for the rest of the season and barely held on to sixth place in the standings, with a tiebreak decision placing them ahead of Aston Martin.
The team’s lack of points during the latter half of the season was due to a series of reliability problems, as well as a stagnation in performance. This issue was only resolved with the introduction of late front wing and floor updates.
This year’s pre-season testing presents a very different picture compared to both the previous year’s pre-season and their low-performing period last season.
The car looks visibly more confidence-inspiring, and both drivers are reportedly happy with its performance.
The team encountered only one glitch during testing, which was caused by a Ferrari engine problem. However, this did not significantly affect the team’s testing program, as they managed to complete a solid 402 laps with no major concerns.
During the 2022 Bahrain Grand Prix, Bottas managed to secure sixth place on the grid and in the race, despite the car experiencing bouncing issues during testing and not feeling great in fast corners.
This year, however, Bottas feels more confident, as the team is better prepared, and there seem to be fewer obstacles in their way. He noted that last year’s testing wasn’t too enjoyable, but this year, he feels that the team is in a good place after completing their testing program.
Improved Alfa Romeo Car Shows Promise Ahead of 2023 F1 Season Improved Alfa Romeo Car Shows Promise Ahead of 2023 F1 Season Improved Alfa Romeo Car Shows Promise Ahead of 2023 F1 Season Improved Alfa Romeo Car Shows Promise Ahead of 2023 F1 Season Improved Alfa Romeo Car Shows Promise Ahead of 2023 F1 Season Improved Alfa Romeo Car Shows Promise Ahead of 2023 F1 Season
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