Alpine has been practically the only team that has made improvements to its car in all the races this season, which has allowed Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon to score the necessary points to place themselves in fourth position in the constructors’ championship.
While rival teams have been constrained in developing their cars by Formula 1’s cost cap, Alpine has not held back and is planning a new recruitment campaign to increase the size of its squad.
One of the reasons the Enstones have been able to afford the extra spending stems from a strategic decision made earlier this year to pre-empt the huge rises in energy costs that appear to have hurt all his rivals.
Anticipating skyrocketing electricity and gas costs following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Alpine bought as much power as it could in one swoop, hedging ahead of time against a cost spike that was not long in coming.
Team principal Otmar Szafnauer believes this measure saved considerable money, which they were able to invest in increasing the car’s performance.
“We bought power ahead of time and that saved us a few million,” Szafnauer explained to Motorsport.com when discussing Alpine’s upgrades at the start of 2022.
“We bought energy and some material, so it was a smart move,” he added.
Alpine is aiming to battle at the front of the grid once it completes its first 100 races under its new identity.
And while their goal has been made more difficult by the introduction of the cost cap, Szafnauer believes that the situation the team finds itself in with this budget cap is a good one, as they have been working under the cap until now.
And the strategy of buying energy in advance has also contributed greatly to this.
“I don’t want to say that we are significantly below the cost limit, but we are comfortably below it,” Szafnauer explained.
“That’s been achieved in part because of some good strategic decisions. Some of the finance guys saw that inflation was coming and so they made some good decisions to buy cheaper stuff that you know you’re going to use in the future”.
“Structurally we are also structured a little bit differently, so in terms of the cost cap, I think we are better managed than some of the other teams.
“So that’s helped us and allowed us to hire another 75 people without worrying about going over the cost cap, which is great. We’re in a good position.”
Szafnauer also acknowledged that the cost cap increase that was agreed before the summer break, due to inflation setting off alarm bells for several teams, also gave them more freedom.
“The cost cap has increased for this year by almost 4.3 million euros and I think it’s the same for next year,” he said.
“So the 135 million euros that we were supposed to be able to spend next season is probably around 141 or 145 million euros. This gives us room to manoeuvre, although next year we will surely buy things at the same prices, we no longer cover ourselves so far in advance”.
“So you have to know how to see in advance the amount of the cost ceiling that inflation will eat more or less. Therefore, we have to know what margin we are talking about to try to cover it. That is what we are doing,” concluded the Alpine .
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