Categories: News

Sport: Alpine

The small world of F1 entered the traditional summer break after a somewhat tormented Belgian Grand Prix. First of all by the weather, which was very capricious, but above all by the resounding announcements of reorganization within the Alpine team, on the eve of the event. Back to the circumstances of this major household.


AAs all eyes are on unforgiving skies ahead of Friday’s only free practice session at Spa, an internal Alpine team source informs us that an announcement will be made within minutes. future. What could it be? We already know, since the same morning, that Pat Fry is leaving his post as technical director of the French team to join Williams F1. And – above all – we still have in mind the “surprise” and sudden dismissal of the boss of Alpine, Laurent Rossi, eight days earlier… Should we expect new heads to roll? Moments later, an official press release announces the “ separation by mutual agreement with team principal Otmar Szafnauer at the end of the 2023 Belgian Grand Prix ”! The document also specifies the departure of sporting director Alan Permane and confirms that of Fry. Stupor is the order of the day in the F1 paddock, but perhaps more about the timing than the facts themselves. Indeed, as we have already mentioned in the columns ofcar plus, since the beginning of the season, the atmosphere was not good in the tricolor team. The results were not at the expected level, the tension was palpable in the team and these drastic decisions were ultimately predictable. What was less so was the timing. Parting with such important people on a Friday, the day before the Grand Prix, is as surprising as it is unprecedented! We would have imagined it more easily at the end of the weekend, especially since it preceded this famous summer break… However, when we look at the events of recent weeks, we could see a certain logic there. .

A little step back is necessary and even requires going beyond the purely sporting framework. Indeed, on June 26, Luca de Meo and Laurent Rossi, respectively boss of the Renault Group and Alpine, announced to the press and investors a very ambitious project for growth and international development of the brand with, in particular , the launch of seven new models by 2030. And to do this, the brand intends to rely on the global influence of Formula 1 to develop its image. We thus understand the pressure put on the team and the succession of announcements that will follow.

chain reactions

On July 10, we learned that Bruno Famin, who had been the director of the Viry-Châtillon engine plant since the beginning of 2022, took over the management of all Alpine motorsport activities. Then, on July 20, on the eve of the Hungarian Grand Prix, a dramatic turn of events, Laurent Rossi, suddenly disembarked, was replaced by Philippe Krief, as General Manager of the Alpine brand (the latter had been in charge of product engineering). And finally, on July 28, it was at the heart of the Formula 1 team that the ax fell. These events did not fail to arouse numerous comments, some openly, others “off”. Among them, that of Alain Prost, in the columns of our colleagues from The team, who took the opportunity to settle accounts by castigating Laurent Rossi. And he didn’t go dead tomorrow, calling it ” incapable leader who thinks he can overcome his incompetence by his arrogance and lack of humanity towards his troops” ! It must be said that following the arrival of Rossi at the head of the brand in 2021, some key personalities, in place at the time, had been gradually “placed”, including the quadruple world champion… Others also highlighted the fact that the heads that had just “popped” were those of important people at Enstone, including Alan Permane, who had been with the team for thirty-four years and who, some would say, did not really work for communication between Enstone (in charge of the chassis) and Viry-Châtillon, headquarters of the engine department. And it must be recognized that this two-headed structure has been the source of many problems.

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This important page that is turning could therefore be beneficial, but the management of the next Grands Prix (there are ten left) will not be easy. It will fall, initially, to Bruno Famin, appointed interim team manager on the occasion of this reshuffle. And as soon as he was appointed, he wanted to provide some explanations. “ We are clearly not at the level we expected. After fourth place last year, we aimed to consolidate this position, to get closer to the third, to make performances and podiums. “However, to date, Alpine is only sixth in the standings, far behind McLaren. “ We had to react. The departures of Otmar (Szafnauer) and Alan (Permane) were not planned, but if we jointly decided to take different paths, it is because we realized that we were not not sufficiently aligned on a certain number of things and especially on when it had to be done. ” As Bruno Famin admits, at this stage, it is no longer the 2023 ranking that counts, but it is urgent to put changes in place to move forward.

Be there for 2026

However, as we know, in Formula 1, setting up a stable organization and poaching new thinking heads takes time (when you leave a team, you are forced into a period of forced inactivity). However, it seems that recruitments had already been made by Alpine from other teams (Red Bull, Ferrari, etc.) and were to take place in 2024. Will they be maintained? For the moment, the new interim team director is not commenting. But in his lines of work, he wants to improve the functioning of the team, the state of mind. “ It’s not just one person, a team principal or whatever, who’s going to do it, but it’s everyone together. ”. Bruno Famin also intends to work to bring the two French and English entities closer together. “ There is a lot of wealth and talent on these two sites, you have to release their energy. I have just spent a year and a half in Viry, I have a small idea of ​​things and I will now spend a lot of time in Enstone to work in this direction. It’s not an engine that wins, nor a chassis, it’s a whole. What is needed is the package and the niac to move forward. ” The three-week break (including fourteen days when factories are required to close) will not be too much to prepare for the resumption in Zandvoort (Netherlands) on August 26 and 27. But above all, we will then have to face the months to come, because the roadmap is clear. Alpine wants and must learn from its mistakes, improve from race to race, from season to season, in order to be ready for the 2026 deadline when new regulations will come into force, leading to major changes both in terms of chassis , only motors. No question of missing this appointment!

Triple winner of the Dakar (2019, 2022 and 2023) and world rally-raid champion (W2RC) in 2022, within Toyota Gazoo racing, the famous duo Nasser Al-Attiyah / Mathieu Baumel have decided to end their collaboration with the Japanese brand. The announcement was made by the Qatari himself, via social networks, on July 23. The contract binding them to Toyota ending at the end of August, they decided not to renew it to launch a new challenge. To be continued…


Premier points from Sophia Floersch

The 22-year-old German driver has just made history by becoming the first woman to score points in current Formula 3. Party of the 24e position on the grid of the main race at Spa, she finished 7th by pocketing six points. The only female representative in the discipline and a member of the Alpine Academy, Sophia Floersch thus took her revenge on Austria (early July) where she finished 9th but was then disqualified for a non-compliant car.


Pourchaire takes over

Arriving in Belgium 11 points behind Frederik Vesti, the championship leader, Théo Pourchaire reversed the trend on the tricky Ardennes route. Finishing second in the two races of the weekend and benefiting from an error by his rival, he was able to leave for the holidays with more peace of mind by occupying the lead in the classification with a 12-point lead. When it resumes at Zandvoort (August 26-27), the young Frenchman (who will turn 20 on August 20) will have three dates left to confirm his good form and win the 2023 Formula 2 title.


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