Alpine brain drain continues as key engineer reunites with Fernando Alonso at Aston Martin

Oliver Harden
Bob Bell faces questions in a press conference with prominent Alpine and Aston Martin badges alongside him

Bob Bell was a key figure behind Fernando Alonso's title success with Renault in 2005/06, with the pair poised to be reunited at Aston Martin

Alpine’s F1 brain drain has continued after long-serving engineer Bob Bell reunited with Fernando Alonso at Aston Martin.

Following a poor start to the F1 2024 season in Bahrain last weekend, Alpine announced a major technical restructure on Monday in light of the resignations of technical director Matt Harman and head of aerodynamics Dirk de Beer.

Alpine stalwart joins Fernando Alonso at Aston Martin

The Enstone-based team have split the traditional technical director role between three separate engineers, with Joe Burnell announced as the team’s new Technical Director (Engineering), David Wheater as Technical Director (Aerodynamics) and Ciaron Pilbeam as Technical Director (Performance).

The changes have not stopped there, Bell – a key pillar of the Renault team’s World Championship success with Alonso in 2005/06 – leaving his advisory role with Alpine to join Aston Martin in an operational role.

In a statement, Aston Martin confirmed Bell has joined in the newly created role of ‘Executive Director – Technical’ with the 65-year-old having “overall responsibility for the Technical, Engineering and Performance functions as the team continues its journey and development into true F1 contenders.” He will report to team principal Mike Krack. recommends

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Krack said: “I am delighted to welcome Bob Bell to Aston Martin Aramco.

“This is a key appointment to ensure we are optimising everything we do as a team and focusing on the right performance areas.

“Bob’s track record in the sport speaks for itself and his experience will help us continue to make steps forward on the exciting journey we are on.”

Bell said: “I have been impressed by the progress Aston Martin Aramco has made in recent years.

“The opportunity to play my part in that journey is incredibly exciting and I look forward to working with the great technical leaders at Silverstone.

“The scale and ambition of this project is highly motivating. I am a racer, and I see the hunger and determination powering this team. I look forward to playing my part with Mike and the rest of the team.”

Bell acted as Renault’s technical director during Alonso’s title-winning years in 2005 and 2006, spending a short spell as interim team principal in late 2009 after the infamous Crashgate scandal rocked the Enstone-based team.

The 65-year-old left Renault in October 2010, just months before being appointed the new technical director of Mercedes.

Bell resigned from his position at Mercedes in December 2013 and spent a brief period as a technical consultant to the Manor Marussia team in 2015 before returning to Renault as chief technical officer in February 2016 following the French manufacturer’s reacquisition of the Enstone team.

Bell adopted a part-time advisory role at Renault in 2018, remaining with the team through its Alpine rebrand ahead of the 2021 season, when Alonso returned to F1 following a two-year sabbatical.

Bell’s switch to Aston Martin comes after a lonely race to ninth for Alonso in Bahrain, with the Spaniard telling media including’s Thomas Maher after the chequered flag that the AMR24 car is lacking compared to the team’s rivals.

He said: “Everything is exactly what we expected.

“Our simulations were saying that we were around P9 with not much fight in front of us, the top four teams are a little bit too much ahead with a comfortable gap behind and it was exactly like that.

“I had the McLarens 18 seconds ahead and the Sauber [of 11th-placed Zhou Guanyu] 28 seconds behind, so we were in the middle of no one’s race.

“I think we are lacking pace, for sure. I think yesterday’s laps are something to study, why we were so fast.

“I think the race was normal. What was exceptional was yesterday’s [qualifying] lap.”

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