Formula One

F1 Alfa Romeo 2023 Preview: A Lightweight to Fight Heavyweights?

Entering its final season in F1, Alfa Romeo will try to go out on a high note. The Swiss-based team delivered its best result since re-entering Formula One, finishing a respectable sixth in the constructors’ standings. Can Alfa Romeo repeat the success in 2023?

Formula One F1 Alfa Romeo Car 2023
Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Alfa Romeo F1 Team C43. 03.03.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 1, Bahrain Grand Prix, Sakhir, Bahrain, Practice Day –, EMail: [email protected] © Copyright: Coates / XPB Images – Photo by Icon sport

Alfa Romeo has been running under its own name since 2019, after serving as a title sponsor for Sauber in 2018. The partnership is set to end this season, as the Hinwil squad enters a transition period before switching over to Audi for 2026. Both sides will definitely want to produce a beautiful swan song in 2023.

With the change in regulations for 2022, Alfa had one of the most distinctive cars on the grid. Despite making some changes to its 2023 F1 car, the Swiss team continues with the same short wheelbase, lightweight approach.

Alfa Romeo enjoyed a strong start to the season, but fell behind in the development race and dropped down the order after the summer break. The team still managed to score 10 points finishes in 22 races, with both cars finishing inside the top 10 on two occasions.

Following an impressive showing during the pre-season testing, with Bottas scoring the third-fastest time overall, is a fifth place in the constructors’ standings on the cards for 2023?

Formula One Alfa Romeo 2023 Team Preview: Will It Be the Fastest Mid-field Team?

Pole Positions12
Constructors’ Championships0
2022 Constructors’ Standings6th (55 points)
Alfa Romeo’s F1 stats

Sauber had some difficult years after its split with BMW, and especially since the start of the V6 hybrid era. The Swiss team had never finished higher than eighth since the 2014 regulation change, including a last place finish in 2017. Under the Alfa Romeo partnership, the Hinwil squad enjoyed much better results, finishing eighth in 2019 and 2020.

Adopting a unique concept, the C42 was the lightest car on the grid in 2022 – a year in which teams were shedding off paint in a bid to save weight. And it did work out nicely during the first half of the season. Alfa Romeo found itself consistently inside the top 10, scoring a double-points finish in the Bahrain opener. Valtteri Bottas finished fifth in Imola, which would end up being the team’s best result of the year.

But Alfa’s lightweight, short wheelbase concept struggled once F1 switched over to the high speed portion of the schedule. The C42 struggled to generate downforce, and Alfa Romeo only finished inside the points three times after the Canadian Grand Prix.

For 2023, the team continues to bet on the same design philosophy, featuring some minor adjustments to fine-tune the aero. Will it pay off this time?

Alfa Romeo Drivers in F1 2023

Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu are back for a second season driving for the Swiss team. Bottas is signed through the 2025 season, while Zhou agreed to a one-year extension valid for 2023.

Valtteri Bottas

Pole Positions20
2022 Drivers’ Standings10th (49 points)
Valtteri Bottas’ F1 stats

Not too long after announcing that he would be leaving Mercedes for 2022, Bottas agreed to a multi-year deal with Alfa Romeo. The Finn would go back to being the lead driver for the first time since 2016, his final year at Williams.

The Finn also had a good start to the season, spearheading Alfa Romeo’s charge as the team challenged for fourth place in the standings. But once the schedule switched over to the high-speed tracks, Bottas’ results also took a nosedive.

The 33-year old from Nastola did score two of Alfa’s three point finishes, but struggled to replicate his strong performance from the first eight races. Overall, it was still a positive first year, and there is plenty of reason for optimism heading into 2023.

Zhou Guanyu

Pole Positions0
2022 Drivers’ Standings18th (6 points)
Zhou Guanyu’s F1 stats

Zhou became the first Chinese driver in F1 history, agreeing to a one-year deal with Alfa Romeo for 2022. The former Ferrari and Renault/Alpine junior drew some criticism for his signing, but delivered a solid performance in his debut race. Zhou secured a tenth place finish in Bahrain, scoring a point on his first start.

The remaining races did not go as smooth. Zhou struggled to keep up with Bottas on Sundays, and only managed another two point finishes all year. The 23-year old from Shanghai finished down in 18th in the drivers’ standings, far away from his teammate.

Despite his unspectacular first year, Zhou did receive a one-year extension for 2023. However, the Chinese driver will have to deliver much better results this time around if he wants to stay in F1 past the current year.

F1 Alfa Romeo Car 2023 – The C43

Alfa Romeo stuck to its guns for 2023, running it back with a short wheelbase and a lightweight car. The C43 has some minor upgrades over the C42, which the Swiss team hopes will be enough to take the next step.

By running a shorter wheelbase, Alfa Romeo required less material to build the car, thus saving weight. It also provides better mechanical grip, allowing the car to enter and exit low-speed corners better than a long wheelbase car.

On the other hand, the C42 and C43 design sacrifices aero grip. Short wheelbase cars also have less space for the floorboard – which significantly reduces downforce in a ground-effect ruleset. Naturally, the C42 exceeded at low-speed corners, but struggled through the fast sections.

The C43 extended its wheelbase slightly, but will remain as the shortest and lightest car on the grid. Alfa Romeo also introduced some updates to its sidepods, like most teams. The Swiss squad dramatically reduced its radiator’s air intake, which was one of the widest on the grid. Alfa created additional space between the floor and the sidepod, allowing more room for the air to flow towards the rear.

The 2022 model also had one of the most distinctive front wing designs. For 2023, the regulations changed slightly to curb development in that area. Alfa Romeo had to lower the inward section, but managed to keep the signature wavy shape.

Having shown some good pace over single lap runs and long runs, the C43 looked like one of the best mid-field cars during pre-season testing. If Alfa Romeo manages to solve its downforce problems, performing at a similar level on low and high speed tracks, then the Italian brand has a chance of bowing out of F1 in style.

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