What’s going on in the Alpine F1 team?

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Photo: Clive Rose (Getty Images)

The Alpine Formula One team has been in flux over the past two seasons – and 2022 looks no different. The former Renault team saw driver and personnel changes on a regular basis, and things came to a head earlier this week when Alain Prost was summarily dismissed. If you’re having trouble keeping up, we’re here to help explain it in simple terms.

An unstable transition

Just before the 2021 season, former team boss Cyril Abiteboul left the team as it transitioned from Renault to Alpine – which came as a surprise to many F1 fans. At the time, the Alpine takeover signaled that there would be changes, but most people expected Abiteboul to move into a different role in the team, not leave it altogether. In fact, he was slated to serve as CEO – a post that was later filled by Laurent Rossi.

Under Abiteboul’s leadership, the team has grown and enjoyed consistent success in numerous races, which ultimately resulted in three podium finishes for the team’s riders in 2020. Without this senior expertise, Alpine would enter 2021 on fragile ground.

Abiteboul was replaced by former Suzuki MotoGP boss Davide Brivio, and Marcin Bukowski took on the role of executive director. Things seemed to be going well; Alpine secured another fifth place in the Constructors’ Championship and driver Esteban Ocon even won a race. Overall performance was down a bit, but for a serious transition year, Alpine had something to be proud of.

At first glance, however, things looked good. Personnel changes are common in motorsport and Alpine is always gaining a foothold. Not ideal, but not a crisis. To the right?

And then there is Alain Prost

Oh no. It’s a crisis.

Alpine announced that four-time world champion Alain Prost would step down as team advisor – and Prost was unimpressed. He immediately took to Instagram to voice his grievances against the team.

His post caption read:

I am very disappointed with the way this novelty was announced today! It was agreed that we would announce with @alpinef1team ! No respect sorry! I declined the offer made to me in abudhabi for the 2022 season due to a personal relationship and I was right! To the enstone and viry team I will miss you

Well, that doesn’t sound ideal, does it? To make matters worse, Prost was so furious that he went straight to the team, a French sports newspaper, to really talk about Alpine – and it puts all the blame for the chaos squarely on the shoulders of Laurent Rossi.

“Laurent Rossi wanted all the light,” Prost said. “Laurent Rossi’s desire is to be alone, not to be polluted by anyone… He told me he no longer needed advice. There is a real desire to put a lot of people on the sidelines. »

Prost went on to say that “jealousy” played a part in his choice not to renew his Alpine contract, although he said he still believed in the Alpine racing project. But his conviction turned against him.

Here’s more from Prost:

The 2021 season was very disruptive for me, in the sense that I felt that the old people (of the team) had to leave. I accept the change because we don’t have to do F1 always the same way. We can do it differently, and that’s what has been done throughout the last year. But for me, it became too complicated.

I was no longer involved in the decisions. Sometimes I didn’t even share them at all, but I had to keep spreading the official word.

Even as a board member, I discovered some decisions at the last minute. We may not be able to be heard, but at least we must be warned in time. It’s a question of respect. Relationships were getting more and more complicated. I felt there was a lot of jealousy.

What I don’t appreciate is the relationship and the lack of respect for people.

When the team leader doesn’t even say hello to you when you arrive on the circuit, it’s because there’s no more fun. There isn’t even any respect anymore. And then it can’t work.

Why is this important?

In an interview with RACER during the United States Grand Prix weekend in October 2021, Rossi said that “I evaluated, diagnosed the team, made some changes… And I will continue to make changes, I know for a fact that I will continue to make changes as I go…

“But I’m always looking for places where we can strengthen, strengthen, fix things for the future, and I want to build muscle so the team can constantly improve and go up and up and up.”

It’s clear Rossi did, but it doesn’t look like it’s for the best. At the very least, you should probably avoid getting on a team and immediately cutting ties with a multiple-time World Champion.

The biggest indicator of Rossi’s success will come in the upcoming 2022 season. Will Alpine find its way and finally move from fifth in the Championship to fourth? Will we see a stronger and more competitive team? Or will the grudge hinder the progress of the team? It’s hard to say now – but it will be one of the biggest storylines of this new year.

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