Renault-owned Alpine set out their goals for the Formula One season on February 16, 2023, with a new car, before unveiling French football great Zinedine Zidane as a surprise signing.
The World Cup winner and former Real Madrid coach were introduced at the launch of the new A523 car as a global ambassador for the brand and to help promote equal opportunities.
"I am very happy to be here today and happy to be part of the Alpine team," Zidane told the surprised audience in a former newspaper printing site in London's Docklands.
French driver Pierre Gasly, another new signing as team mate to established compatriot Esteban Ocon, races with the number 10 and had to admit he was only the best non-retired number 10 in the building.
"He's been one of my idols since I was a kid," he told reporters. "I started playing football at five and just wanted to wear number 10, his jersey every time I was going to practice and training.
"Just to see him as an ambassador today and go to spend some time backstage before the event, I just attacked him with millions of questions about his career."
Britain's double Olympic boxing champion Nicola Adams was also appointed as a mentor to coach young drivers and raise awareness of diversity.
Ocon and Gasly, who replaces departed double world champion, Fernando Alonso, were given a clear target – defending fourth place overall as a bare minimum and closing the huge gap to champions Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes.
Alpine managed to secure fourth overall in 2022 after a season-long battle with McLaren, but the 342-point gap between them and third-placed Mercedes left no illusions.
"The gap to third was big and we've got to close that gap," said team principal Otmar Szafnauer.
"In order to so we must develop at a higher rate than any other Formula One team out there... and that's what we're looking to do."
Renault chief executive Luca de Meo said the French carmaker's commitment was long-term and he was optimistic about a trajectory that has seen the team move from fifth in 2021 to fourth in 2022.
"Maybe Esteban and Pierre can give us a couple of podiums," he added.
Both drivers are race winners and had a first taste of the car in a private 100km shakedown run at Silverstone last Monday.
Ocon is in his fourth year at the team while Gasly has joined from Red Bull-owned AlphaTauri.
Australian Jack Doohan, son of motorcycle great Mick, will be the team's official reserve driver while also racing in Formula Two.
The car, an evolution from its predecessor, will run in a full pink livery for the first three races in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and Australia before switching back to Alpine's blue colours.
One word speaks volumes as Mercedes plot return to form
Mercedes Formula One boss Toto Wolff said his team’s 2023 car would ‘eventually’ be competitive enough to fight at the very front of the grid and the Austrian chose the word carefully.
The once-dominant team are playing catch-up to champions Red Bull and runners-up Ferrari after slumping to third overall in 2022 following an unprecedented run of eight successive constructors’ titles.
With a limited three days of pre-season testing still to come at Bahrain’s Sakhir circuit next week, bold statements can wait.
“I was contemplating about that word for 15 minutes, when we talked about the press release,” Wolff conceded to reporters at the team’s car launch.
“On one side you want to say ‘we will be competitive’, on the other side you need to stay humble and realistic. So you could say ‘I hope that we will be competitive’.
“The mid way round is ‘we will be competitive, we just don’t know when’.
“I think we are on the slope we wanted to be in terms of our performance but then you don’t know where the other ones are. I think humility is most important. We’ve always tried to be humble, and especially after last year.”
Mercedes won only one race in 2022, with George Russell in Brazil, after starting the season with a notably bouncing or ‘porpoising’ car.
For seven-times world champion Lewis Hamilton it was the first time in his career that he had gone through an entire campaign without a victory.
Mercedes have retained the standout narrow sidepod design of the W13 car, but with a significantly lighter chassis and revised front suspension geometry.
“There is so much energy and so much motivation,” said Wolff. “After many very successful years you always run the risk that it becomes normal.
“We were taught a tough lesson last year... getting it wrong last year I believe will be good long-term.”
The Austrian said in November that the 2022 cars would be placed in the reception areas of the Mercedes factories in Brackley and Brixworth as a daily reminder of how difficult the sport can be.
At Wednesday’s launch, however, the boss put a more positive spin on it.
“I have changed my approach a little bit,” he said.
“I wanted to put it in the lobby as a reminder that you must not rest on your laurels. But actually I want to place it in the lobby because it is a symbol of boldness and courage for me.
“We took a radical design direction last year and we dared and we failed.
“For me, that shows a lot about the mindset of the team -- how it is important to cope with success and failure at the same time and I wouldn’t want us to go in any shape or form conservative in the future.
“I want us to take calculated risks and be bold.”
Red Bull and Alfa Romeo get their 2023 cars on track
Formula One champions Red Bull and Ferrari-powered Alfa Romeo took their 2023 cars out on track on Friday for limited mileage pre-season filming.
Red Bull published a tantalising teaser on Twitter of their RB19 lapping at Silverstone while Alfa Romeo said their C43 completed a successful debut at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya.
Red Bull held a livery launch in New York last week with double world champion Max Verstappen and Mexican Sergio Perez while Alfa showed off their new look in Switzerland last Tuesday.
Alfa will also be doing a second promotional filming day on Saturday with race drivers Valtteri Bottas and Guanyu Zhou and reserve Theo Pourchaire.
“The debut of our C43 is a pivotal moment in our season: it marks the start of our on-track campaign and really drives home how close the season is,” said Alfa technical director Jan Monchaux.
“Today was important to ensure everything is in place, not just with the car but also with the wider team, ahead of what is going to be a crucial start of the championship.”
Piastri has no fear of repeating Ricciardo’s struggles at McLaren’s MCL60 launch
Australian Formula One rookie Oscar Piastri is confident he can avoid suffering the same problems as Daniel Ricciardo, the compatriot he has replaced at McLaren.
Ricciardo, a winner of eight races, never felt fully at home in the car and left a year before his contract was up after two under-performing seasons alongside British team mate Lando Norris.
He is now a reserve at champions Red Bull.
Piastri, the 2021 Formula Two champion, joins after a season on the sidelines as reserve for Renault-owned Alpine.
“It’s obviously a bit of a shame that things didn’t work out between the team and Daniel, but for me personally I’m not concerned about that aspect of things,” Piastri, 21, said at the launch of the new MCL60 car on Monday.
“Through my junior career, I’ve had to change car every single year.
“I’ve never driven the same car for more than a year,” added the Melbourne native, who left for Britain as a 14-year-old.
“I think adaptation is a big strength that you need in the junior categories, and I think that’s been prominent in mine.”
Piastri arrives with an impressive record, winning the Formula Renault, Formula Three and Formula Two titles at the first attempt.
Guided by retired Australian F1 racer Mark Webber, he handled reporters’ questions with poise and self-assurance while also appreciating the opportunity he had been given.
“It’s my first year of getting paid to race cars, which is pretty cool,” he said.
Asked where he fitted on the ‘Webber-Ricciardo spectrum’, the former known for his ‘Aussie Grit’ and the latter as an ever-smiling presence, Piastri suggested he was somewhere between the two.
“Serious when I need to be serious but have a bit of a laugh when I can as well,” he said.
“A bit of fun every now and then is always important but when it’s time for business, then it’s all hands on deck.”
McLaren Racing boss Zak Brown said he was impressed with how calm and focused on racing Piastri was, while new team principal Andrea Stella said he had also shown he could be demanding.
“There’s a characteristic we like a lot; He’s a man of few words but the right words,” he said. “That’s become very apparent.”
Ferrari unveils new F1 car with Red Bull in their sights
Ferrari unveiled their new SF-23 car for the upcoming Formula One season at their Maranello headquarters on Tuesday, the Scuderia gunning for Red Bull and world champion Max Verstappen.
The Scuderia finished second in the drivers and constructors championships last time out after an error-strewn campaign, way behind Red Bull whose top driver Verstappen comfortably retained his title.
“The goal is to win, clearly,” said driver Charles Leclerc, who took the SF-23 for a spin around the Maranello track in front of some of the team’s passionate supporters.
“The feeling of winning is what motivates me, motivates all the team too. I’m really looking forward to getting back in the car and trying to win the championship.”
The coming season is the first for team principal Frederic Vasseur, who took charge in December following the resignation of Mattia Binotto the month before.
Binotto was considered culpable for last season’s frequent missteps, including pitlane errors and reliability issues which damaged Leclerc’s attempt to keep up with Verstappen.
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Ferrari began with two wins in the opening three Grands Prix but were then swept aside by Red Bull and Verstappen, who won the drivers title with three races remaining and eventually finished 146 points ahead of Leclerc.
The new car is designed with the aim of improving aerodynamics and the reliability of the engine, the latter being one of the key problems last time out.
“You can feel the responsibility for the team, it’s a great honour but at the end of the day the important thing is to be successful,” said Frenchman Vasseur.
“We want to deliver and I don’t want to be happy just because I’m at Ferrari, the most important is to win.
“Last year is not a secret, it was not the best aspect with the engine, we’ve done a good job and we’re ready for the season.”
AlphaTauri reveals new livery for 2023 season, raises expectations from Yuki Tsunoda
AlphaTauri showed off their new Formula One car livery on Saturday with Japanese driver Yuki Tsunoda left in no doubt what the Red Bull-owned team expects from him this season.
Tsunoda will be starting his third year with the Italy-based team, whose launch was held at New York's Lincoln Center during Fashion Week to promote the clothing brand of the energy drink company.
"Last year, Yuki struggled with the car," AlphaTauri team boss Franz Tost said in a press release to accompany the digital reveal of the AT04 car.
"This year, as I expect we will have quite a competitive car, Yuki must always aim to be in Qualifying Three (the final phase) and finish the races in the points.
"He is a very highly-skilled driver and now has a lot of experience with two seasons in Formula One. For this reason, of course, he has to score many more points than he did last year."
Tsunoda scored 12 points from 22 races, while French team mate Pierre Gasly bagged 23.
In 2021 Tsunoda scored 32 points to Gasly's 110.
The 22-year-old Japanese said he had worked hard on his physical condition last season and rebuilt the confidence that had faded in 2021.
The 23-race season starts at the Sakhir circuit on March 5, with pre-season testing scheduled in Bahrain from February 23 to 25.