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Formula 1 Chinese GP

Alpine fast-tracks F1 floor upgrade to China amid recovery push

The Alpine Formula 1 team has fast-tracked a floor upgrade to this weekend's Chinese Grand Prix in its bid to recover from a disastrous start to 2024.

Esteban Ocon, Alpine A524

Alpine drivers Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly have yet to score points as a late car concept change has seen the Enstone squad make a sideways step while its midfield rivals all made significant gains compared to last year.

Initial upgrades brought to Suzuka's Japanese Grand Prix appeared to give a glimmer of hope, with Ocon advancing to Q2 to qualify 13th, but both he and Gasly were powerless to fight for points, their woes compounded by picking up early damage.

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Alpine says it has now managed to bring an upgrade package meant for May's Miami Grand Prix forward by one round, with one of its A524 cars benefitting from the new suite of parts.

The team has confirmed to Motorsport.com that the upgrade consists of a revised floor that will be installed on Ocon's car.

Both drivers are set to run the new specification from Miami onwards, with Gasly receiving priority on the next occasion where just one package is available.

"The last race in Japan underlined how big a challenge we have on our hands to improve our performance level," said team boss Bruno Famin.

"We must develop the performance of the car in order to fight for higher positions. While it was good to bring the first updates to the car in Suzuka, we must do more.

"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."

Pierre Gasly, Alpine A524

Pierre Gasly, Alpine A524

Photo by: Simon Galloway / Motorsport Images

Alpine's decision to fast-track its upgrade package is a bold move as this weekend's Chinese Grand Prix returns after a four-season absence, so there is a limited amount of valid data available for the Shanghai circuit.

In addition, Shanghai is the first sprint event of the 2024 season, meaning teams have just a single 60-minute practice session to get on top of their car set-ups.

"The cars are completely different to the 2019-spec, so preparation has been different to normal," Famin added.

"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.

Bringing new parts to a sprint event came back to bite Alpine at last year's Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

Though not directly linked to its floor upgrade, Alpine's weekend snowballed out of control after reliability issues in FP1 limited its running, meaning it went into Friday qualifying with barely any data on its new specification.

It then had to change Ocon's car set-up after finding an alarming amount of plank wear, relegating the Frenchman to a pitlane start.

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