Zinedine Zidane explains how Alpine convinced him to team up

Toby Miles
French football legend Zinedine Zidane. Germany, July 2019.

French football legend Zinedine Zidane in street clothes. Germany, July 2019.

Alpine had an extra surprise for attendees of their A523 launch, bringing football icon Zinedine Zidane on stage to announce an F1 crossover. 

The French playmaker flew to London on Thursday for the 10th and final car reveal of Formula 1’s launch season, where Alpine revealed two liveries: an all-pink design nodding to sponsor BWT that is set to appear in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Australia, as well as a blue and pink machine for the rest of the campaign.

The Groupe Renault-owned team are ones to watch in 2023, so it’s handy they’ll be easy to spot. If last season’s reliability hitches are fixed, all-French duo Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon will be confident of racking-up some podiums.

If the French flavour wasn’t strong enough, Zidane brought an extra hit of patriotism. Among the greatest midfielders of all time, the World Cup winner and Real Madrid icon turned Champions League-winning manager joins Alpine as an ambassador.

“I am very happy to be here today and happy to be part of the Alpine team. I had the opportunity to meet Laurent (Rossi, Alpine CEO) with the whole team for a Grand Prix,” Zidane said at the A523 launch, before apologising for his limited English.

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“We had a good exchange, and they had a project to give the opportunities to young people, to have their opportunities for all the young talent. I was interested in this project.”

Zidane is no stranger to Formula 1, having attended the Monaco Grand Prix on several occasions in the past – attending the Monte Carlo showpiece as a guest of Alpine last season.

The former Juventus star is currently jobless after leaving the Real Madrid manager’s role for a second time in 2021. He was reportedly holding-out for the French national team role, although Didier Deschamps’ contract extension with Les Bleus may cause Zidane to re-think.

In the meantime, he will be assisting Alpine in making it back to the front of the F1 grid, having not won a World Championship since Fernando Alonso’s second title in 2006, with the team badged as Renault.

There was one particularly excited fan-boy on stage at the A523 launch by the name of Pierre Gasly. Formula 1’s No.10 admitted Zidane, who lifted the 1998 World Cup wearing that number, was a hero of his growing up.

“I raced with that number in 2013 when I became Formula Renault European champion,” the new Alpine signing said.

“I was a big fan, I am still a big fan of Zinedine Zidane, who was number 10 for the national French team.”

Fourth place and beyond?

Some added inspiration from a national icon might go a long way for Alpine this season, who are an exciting prospect for 2023.

With an engine development freeze in place until 2026, Alpine look well-placed to benefit. The former Renault-badged team rocked up for the 2022 season with a high-powered, yet fragile engine that beat McLaren in the best-of-the-rest tussle but cost Fernando Alonso and Ocon big points when it failed.

Alpine’s power unit chief Bruno Famin explained their 2022 engine niggles: “We took a risk by trying to develop an engine that was as light as possible and not going through the full validation process that we would normally do. We’re quite optimistic that we’ll be able to solve those problems.”

While Alonso continues to fire shots at Alpine from his new Aston Martin garage, hitting out at their lack of ambition and contentment to settle for fourth, the French team will be determined to hit back at the Spaniard on track.

There is an expectation of a tighter midfield fight this year but if Alpine’s one-lap pace is equally as strong while reliability increases, they could silence Alonso by giving Ferrari, Red Bull and Mercedes a few problems this season.