Alpine ‘lack direction’ after ‘tumultuous’ season as Sky F1 pundits scrutinise

Michelle Foster
Alan Permane and Otmar Szafnauer

On the chopping block: Alan Permane and Otmar Szafnauer paid the price for Alpine's failures.

Axing team boss Otmar Szafnauer mid-season to bring in Bruno Famin, although only as the interim team boss, Martin Brundle has labelled Alpine’s 2023 personnel changes “destabilise”.

And it’s not just the head honcho who is new.

Losing Fernando Alonso when they refused to offer him a multi-year deal while reserve Oscar Piastri also left for pastures McLaren, Alpine had a new driver line-up at the beginning of the season with Pierre Gasly joining his nemesis Esteban Ocon.

Martin Brundle: It must destabilise everybody

But while the boyhood rivals largely kept it clean and friendly, the same cannot be said on the management side.

Alpine sacked team boss Szafnauer and sporting director Alan Permane halfway through the Belgian GP weekend, a decision that had former Alpine non-executive director Alain Prost calling out former Alpine CEO Laurent Rossi for his “incompetence, arrogance and a lack of humanity”.

As all the axing and stepping down played out, Alpine were left with an interim team boss in Bruno Famin while Philippe Krief was named the new CEO.

Former F1 driver turned pundit Brundle believes all that played a role in the team’s lacklustre P6 in the Constructors’ Championship.

“Oh, very much,” he told Sky Sports’ season round-up when asked if Alpine had lost their direction.

“I mean, they lost Fernando Alonso for this season, they didn’t get Oscar Piastri, then we saw a massive management reshuffle as well, didn’t we?

“So the team that were Toleman and Bennetton, Renault, through the decades have been a championship-winning team.

“It must destabilise everybody.

“Where you’re not quite sure who your new boss is, you probably just keep your head down and your blinkers on and try to run a Formula 1 team in what has been an incredibly busy season.” recommends

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Alpine are ‘really not going the right direction’

Handed his marching orders ahead of the summer break, Szafnauer called out Alpine for not giving him enough time to fulfil the team’s “100-race” plan.

“It’s unfortunate that I was made some promises that they didn’t deliver on, including giving me 100 races to be competitive and win,” Szafnauer told US publication Boardroom.

But it’s a plan Naomi Schiff says is tripping them up as there’s more talk than action.

“The thing they’ve been very vocal about wanting to progress and unfortunately they’re not progressing in the right direction. The last year they finished fifth in the Constructors’, this year they’re sixth and very far from fifth,” she said. “So really not going the right direction.

“But as Martin says, it’s been a tumultuous, very volatile year for them. A lot of changes in management.

“There have had moments, highlights, think back to Monaco with Esteban Ocon and back to Pierre’s podium, although it was a Sprint at Spa. They’ve had moments where the car has been performing.

“But overall you sense this bit of frustration within the team, and between the drivers and the team.

“So I think it’s just about getting their ducks in a row, getting to know each other again, because there’s been a lot of change from the management side and on the driver side as well.

“I think once they get that team back together and on the same page, they’ll probably make more progress.”

Alpine scored 120 points, 160 short of fifth-placed Aston Martin.

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