Ex-Alpine F1 executive delivers home truth Renault ‘never wanted to hear’

Jamie Woodhouse
Alpine driver Esteban Ocon racing at the British Grand Prix. Silverstone, July 2023.

Alpine's Esteban Ocon racing at the British Grand Prix. Silverstone, July 2023.

Former executive director of the Alpine F1 team Marcin Budkowski has criticised parent brand Renault for not coughing up the cash to match their ambitions, not that the board ever wanted to listen.

The spotlight was very much on Alpine at Formula 1’s most recent stop on the F1 2023 calendar, the Belgian Grand Prix, as an exodus of senior staff was confirmed mid-weekend.

On qualifying Friday the team confirmed that principal Otmar Szafnauer was to leave at the end of the race weekend after a season-and-a-half in charge, while Alan Permane, who had worked at team Enstone for over 30 years, was also shown the door.

Marcin Budkowski claims Renault budget does not match ambitions

It was also confirmed that chief technical officer Pat Fry was heading for the exit with a move to Williams lined-up to take on the same role there.

Four-time World Champion Alain Prost, who also came close to title glory with Renault and was ousted from his non-executive director role with their team in 2022, has been highly critical of his former employer following this management overhaul.

Recently-replaced Alpine CEO Laurent Rossi was the main focus of his criticism, with Prost adding that it “saddens” him to see the current state of the team currently placed P6 in the Constructors’ standings.

And another face of the Renault-owned team’s past in Budkowski, who experienced the transition from Renault to Alpine before leaving at the same time as Prost, has added to the wave of negativity coming the team’s way.

Alpine are now into their 100-race plan for F1 glory, but the latest departures come at a time when Alpine’s rivals Aston Martin and McLaren have surged up the grid, while their progress has stagnated at best.

Budkowski though says Renault talking a big game but not providing the money to back it up is far from a new occurrence.

PlanetF1.com recommends

Most F1 wins by engine: Ford still surprisingly high ahead of F1 return with Red Bull

Revealed: The shortest F1 careers this century in the brutal world of Formula 1

Budkowski, who now works as a tech analyst for Viaplay’s Polish F1 broadcast, said: “Generally, Alain and I see things in a similar way. I spoke with him shortly after these changes were announced.

“Honestly, I’m sad as well, because this team is still close to my heart. I spent many years there.

“I know a lot of people there and have contact with them. And they deserve better – better results and better management.

“The problem with Renault in Formula 1 has always been that the ambitions are very high, but the financial resources are insufficient.

“Every year the ambitions got higher and higher, but the resources that are put into it do not. But the Renault board never wanted to hear that.

“Otmar has spent many years in Formula 1 with different teams – he knows what it takes to win and how difficult it is to achieve it. He also knows how much money is spent by the teams who win, and how long it takes to be successful. That approach was probably not appreciated by Renault.

“Aston Martin’s results this year, and also McLaren’s, have shown that progress can be accelerated, although you can see Aston Martin slipping back a bit now, and McLaren has its good and bad moments.

“It is not a linear process, but those results from Aston Martin and McLaren have not helped the situation at Alpine.”

Former Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto has been linked with the Alpine team principal vacancy, with recently-appointed Alpine Motorsports vice president Bruno Famin taking over Szafnauer’s former duties on an interim basis.

Read next: All-conquering Red Bull RB19 strongly rumoured to be staying on F1 2024 grid