Cyril Abiteboul’s departure as Alpine team principal this winter came as “a shock to everyone”, according to Marcin Budkowski.
Abiteboul had been the public face of the Renault F1 management for the last few years, ending his tenure on a high note with the team’s first three podium finishes since 2011 – all of which occurred in the final seven races of the 2020 campaign.
But under the rebrand to Alpine which has happened during the off-season, the 43-year-old Parisian has moved on to pastures new with three men now overseeing operations including Laurent Rossi, the CEO, and new racing director Davide Brivio.
The other member of the triumvirate is Budkowski, who is now an executive director having supervised the technical side of the team alongside Abiteboul.
At the launch of the new A521, which will be driven by Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon this year, Budkowski said he had been given no prior knowledge about the exit of his former colleague.
“It obviously was a surprise and a shock to everyone when we found out,” said the 43-year-old Pole, quoted by Motorsport.com. “But we were ready for the season anyway, the project was very committed.
“Cyril, in his role, had been struggling to come to Enstone regularly anyway because of COVID. His presence or absence didn’t change the commitment of the project.
“Then we’ve had a new management team in place, Laurent [Rossi]’s arrival was announced.”
Proudly representing the colours of the French and British flags, as well as Alpine’s illustrious and historic racing colours of blue, white and red… Here is our 2021 F1 car, the A521!#A521Launch 💙 pic.twitter.com/AwDI1RNtaE
— Alpine F1 Team (@AlpineF1Team) March 2, 2021
Budkowski said Alpine’s reorganisation was carried out quickly and that the team’s goals remain unchanged, hoping to improve on their fifth place in the constructors’ World Championship in 2020.
“Laurent recently came to Enstone for a few days, during which he met a lot of people, saw the car, saw the development project and was briefed on what we are doing for 2022 too,” added Budkowski.
“We reorganised ourselves very quickly, we have a new team and we have clear, unchanged goals.”
Budkowski also revealed it will be Brivio, the former Suzuki MotoGP boss, who will be a more visible presence at race weekends than himself.
“Managing a team and going to all races is very difficult for me, so it’s personally great to have Davide on board,” said Budkowski.
“Apart from all the skills he brings from his other motorsport experiences, it means I won’t have to go to all the races.
“It means I will probably do the majority of them, but probably start skipping a few in the second half of the season. We have someone in Davide who has a lot of trackside experience, a lot of soft skills, acquired as a team manager in other categories.
“He knows how to manage drivers, how to motivate them, how to organise a garage. It will be a great contribution to have him there, and we can share the role and really make sure we don’t leave anything without the attention it requires.”