Mercedes, Ferrari and Aston Martin had been carefully matched over the primary three races of 2023, taking turns to steer the pursuit of Crimson Bull in qualifying and races, with the three groups clearly a step forward of the remainder.
Latterly Alpine has typically appeared to be on the entrance of the chasing pack, though the Enstone workforce was hit onerous by the collision that led to the retirements of Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly in Australia.
Nonetheless, chatting with the F1 Nation podcast, Szafnauer stated that the Melbourne race indicated that the workforce is making good progress.
“I’m happy with some elements,” stated Szafnauer when requested to sum up the season.
“We have now analysed our relative competitiveness, and we have made positive factors on Ferrari and Mercedes to this point.
“We have misplaced out slightly bit to Crimson Bull and the workforce that has made probably the most achieve that we’re racing, or hopefully we’ll be racing towards, is Aston Martin. So we have finished an honest job over the winter. It may have been higher, however we nonetheless have not optimised.
“We had an honest race in Australia, operating fifth till practically the tip… then a crimson flag, and we come collectively, and we lose a bunch of factors. So the excellent news is the competitiveness was trying higher on the final race, the unhealthy information is we obtained zero factors.
“To me crucial factor is the competitiveness. So long as we’ve a aggressive automobile, the factors will come.”
Szafnauer burdened that the workforce has to win the event race that’s set to outline the season.
“We’re not fairly the place we need to be,” he stated. “So due to this fact we’ve to out-develop our competitors. Our growth curve must be just a bit bit steeper than the others, in order that we are able to make up these three, four-tenths of a second that we’re behind.
Slotting into a brand new atmosphere will nonetheless take Pierre Gasly a while
Photograph by: Alpine
“And I do know everybody else says that too. I’ve seen Mercedes say an analogous factor. For them to catch Crimson Bull, they need to be on a steeper growth curve.
“So that is what we’re all making an attempt to do. And anyone will get it finished. I simply hope it is us. And we’re working onerous at ensuring that it is us.”
Szafnauer made it clear that Alpine believes that if it may possibly shut the hole to the group forward it’ll in impact put itself within the battle to catch leaders Crimson Bull.
“To me, should you’re preventing for fourth this yr, you are preventing for second,” he stated. “It is that shut. So we have to rise up there and be capable of struggle with Mercedes, Aston and Ferrari. I believe that group of three are actually preventing for second.
“And if we are able to get ourselves, like I stated, three-tenths, four-tenths a bit faster than the others then we will likely be in that struggle too. And that must be and remains to be our goal sitting right here as we speak with solely three races behind us and 20 to go.”
Szafnauer additionally famous that workforce newcomer Pierre Gasly has fitted in nicely, however burdened that there was extra to come back from the Frenchman.
“He is actually, actually shut however I believe there will likely be marginal positive factors,” he stated. “It isn’t that he isn’t at one with the automobile, however in F1, you have to get all the things proper. And it simply cannot be finished in three races.
“You spend your total profession at both Crimson Bull or AlphaTauri or Toro Rosso, in that atmosphere, and then you definately transfer to an atmosphere that’s completely different.
“Yeah, we’re each in F1, we each have comparable targets, successful races. And we each have automobiles that adjust to the technical rules, and we adjust to sporting and monetary rules.
“Nonetheless, there’s masses and a great deal of variations that take time to get 100% snug with. So there’s extra to come back out of Pierre.”