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Alfa Romeo hopes new C43 F1 car is "an all-rounder"

Autosport logo Autosport 07/02/2023 Adam Cooper

The new red and carbon livery seen on the C43 represents a final fling for the Alfa name as the team gradually starts to build up its resources and staffing levels.

The impact of that expansion may be seen more clearly in 2024, as the latest car was designed like its predecessor on a relatively tight budget and is a logical progression from the Swiss outfit's first attempt with the current rules – and which it now admits it didn't get quite right.

The C42 had its weaknesses but it was still capable of earning sixth place in the constructors' championship, albeit more than 100 points shy of McLaren in fifth.

If the team has successfully addressed its issues and found more consistent performance and crucially, better reliability, the potential is there to make a decent step.

PLUS: How the last Sauber-built Alfa offers F1 2023 evolution clues

"I feel like this car is at least from the numbers in the simulator a bit more of an all-rounder, versus just quick on the slow speed tracks," said Valtteri Bottas when asked by Autosport if consistency was key.

"One big limitation last year was high speed, just pure high-speed load and balance. And in theory, that should be way better. So let's see."

Bottas and the rest of the team will get their first indication of how the car performs when it completes a filming day in Barcelona on Friday ahead of the official test in Bahrain the following week.

"We have high expectations," Alfa technical director Jan Monchaux said.

Alfa Romeo C43, detail © Alfa Romeo C43, detail

Alfa Romeo C43, detail

Photo by: Alfa Romeo

"First of all, during the winter test, we want to be on the track at all times, not spending our time in the garage with some stupid small mistakes or issues that prevent us from running.

"So it's not nice to be in my shoes right now, because everything could be good, and the next minute you have another issue to tackle and to sort.

"So I'll be glad when we are in Barcelona, and the car is running, and hopefully running smoothly, so that we can get into serious work."

Along with the floor tweaks intended to address porpoising that all teams have had to deal, Monchaux and his team have focussed most of their efforts on the rear of the car.

Last year, decisions on cooling and other packaging elements were made that didn't really pay off.

"The rear end is certainly where we spent most effort, most time to make up ground for us, in terms of topology of the rear and opening the door to further development," he says.

"Especially on the bodywork side, which was not possible last year, because we had a quite extreme cooler arrangement. And we can't change coolers during the season.

"So we had to do significant effort on the rear end to accommodate different cooler arrangements, and therefore different bodywork, which for us was a step forward."

In 2022 the team had its first go in many years at making its own gearbox instead of using customer Ferrari units, a route that it would eventually have had to pursue anyway as the Audi era approaches.

Alfa Romeo C43, detail © Alfa Romeo C43, detail

Alfa Romeo C43, detail

Photo by: Alfa Romeo

Monchaux admits that inevitably the hugely successful Red Bull RB18 provided some inspiration.

"Which you can see," he notes. "I mean, it's quite obvious, but for us, it wouldn't have been possible last year. Even if we had said we wanted it, we couldn't make it, because coolers were so extreme, and the rear suspension wouldn't have allowed that."

Last year Alfa had reliability nightmares, some courtesy of Ferrari, and some of the team's own making. They not only led to a string of race retirements but also cost a lot of track mileage in practice, especially for Bottas.

"It was mainly related to the cooling system, we had four DNFs based on four different issue on the cooling systems. It's not like four times we repeated the same problem.

"We identified the root cause, and we are confident that this is behind us. And we also aim, because it's one of our biggest priorities, to return in terms of reliability to where Sauber was in the years before, when were among the best. So lessons learned.

"So reliability is very big on our list. And we also hope and are generally quite confident that our friends from Maranello will also have done a big step, because it hampered us. We had eight DNFs, we had four or five penalties also because of PU elements.

"So it's eight races which you throw away, plus four or five easy where you start more or less from the back."

Along with better reliability, as highlighted by Bottas, a key target is to find a better consistency of performance across different types of tracks and conditions.

"Certainly on the softest compound we have work to do and I hope we'll be able to raise our games there," says Monchaux. 

"We just need to be better prepared and do a better job as a team. The other teams that finished ahead of us are showing that it's possible. So we analysed weaknesses we have, which are not necessarily related to the pure base of the car, but also how we operate a car and how we operate as a team at the track.

Alfa Romeo C43 © Alfa Romeo C43

Alfa Romeo C43

Photo by: Alfa Romeo

"And in the support being given by the [Hinwil] ops room during the weekend, and the simulator, there are another few steps to be done, which I hope we will have time for in the '23 season."

Another change for this year that all teams have to adapt to is the new Pirelli tyres, which have been designed around a stronger front. However Monchaux says last year's post-season test didn't flag them as a major issue, so it will be interesting to see how they behave on the definitive 2023 cars.

The Bahrain test will provide more evidence of the impact of the tyres and whether or not the team has met its targets. Bottas is eager to find out.

"It's not a lot," the Finn says of the Bahrain session. "It's three days with one car, which means one and a half days per driver. Everybody would love to drive more.

"But the rules are the rules. And that's when the simulation tools and all the computers become even more valuable.

"But at least it is the same for everybody. I think it is possible to be prepared. But you need to have a car that works in the testing. So for us, it is important to have much better winter testing than what we had last year.

"Obviously I've been getting updates always like how things are going, what is new and very much involved in that. And I can't wait to try it, how it feels. We all have big hopes for the season. But you never know how innovative other teams have been."


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