Former Renault team boss highlights key missing factor in Alpine’s F1 story

Michelle Foster
Alpine A523 mechanical detail of the front wing. Belgian July 2023

Alpine A523 mechanical detail of the front wing.

As Alpine continue to deal with the fallout after sacking Otmar Szafnauer and Alan Permane, former Renault team boss Cyril Abiteboul believes the F1 team could be dealing with a clash of interests with the parent company.

Alpine announced on the eve of the final race before the summer break that the Belgian Grand Prix weekend would be Szafnauer and Permane’s last with the team.

That brought to an end Szafnauer’s tenure as team boss just 34 races into the often spoken about 100-race plan, while for Permane it was goodbye to the team he’d been with for more than three decades.

Cyril Abiteboul ponders a disconnect between Alpine and Renault

The upheaval raised many questions as interim team boss Bruno Famin, also the newly-appointed VP of Alpine Motorsport, stated they “were not on the same timeline to recover the level or to reach the level of performance we are aiming for.”

And yet 18 months prior, Szafnauer was given a 100-race target in which to get Alpine to the front of the grid.

Abiteboul wonders if there’s a clash of interests between the team and the parent company, Renault.

“There has to be someone high up at the top of the company who also the vision,” he said as per “He also has to think, we have to win at all costs.

“Red Bull had that with Mateschitz and his legacy maintains it. Aston Martin has that with Lawrence Stroll. Mercedes succeeded, despite the corporate structure. They have set it up in such a way that Mercedes F1 management can win.

“The point is not that there is a battle between the makers of the cars and those who don’t, but that there is someone at the top of the company who wants to win at all costs.

“That is necessary to be successful, especially in Formula 1.” recommends

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At Mercedes, the Brackley squad has that with part owner Toto Wolff who gets to make the final call regarding what they need to achieve success.

“The directors of an F1 team must have the freedom to determine for themselves what they believe is necessary to achieve success,” Abiteboul added. “Someone has to say that what they need, they get that and they can stay no matter what. There has to be some kind of safety net for the race team.

“We see that at Mercedes, underestimating the connection between the F1 team and the company itself. They have set it up so that they can do what it takes to win and they have shown that it works and is stable.”

Alpine are currently sixth in the Constructors’ Championship with 57 points, 134 points off the target of P4.

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