In the run-up to the recent Belgian Grand Prix, Alpine F1 saw a shake-up as team boss Szafnauer and seasoned sporting manager Alan Permane were relieved of their duties. This came a week after Renault CEO Luca de Meo instated Philippe Krief as the new CEO of the Alpine brand, replacing Laurent Rossi.
Interim team principal Bruno Famin rationalized these changes, suggesting that Szafnauer’s vision of Alpine’s journey to the front of the F1 grid did not align with the team’s. This misalignment became evident during Alpine’s unsatisfactory performance in the 2023 season.
Remarkably, the team isn’t even halfway through its ambitious five-year or 100-race strategy to contend for the world championship when the top brass opted for a second wave of staffing changes. Szafnauer, who took over from Abiteboul, only held his position for 18 months.
Abiteboul, now a team leader for Hyundai in the WRC, took Rossi’s place in 2021 when Renault rebranded to Alpine. He holds the view that Rossi’s 100-race strategy was inherently flawed.
“I can’t fathom the reasoning behind 100 grand prix… why not 120 or 80?” Abiteboul shared with France Info, adding, “This approach was destined for failure because it’s impossible to predict the moves of the other Formula 1 teams. Aston Martin’s massive investments and Red Bull’s impressive surge won’t be halted by Rossi’s 99th grand prix.”
Abiteboul also believes that Alpine’s constant staff changes have only delayed their progress further, considering the time required to persuade top talent from rival teams to join them.
This situation first arose in 2021 and seems likely to recur. Szafnauer and Permane’s departure, along with the loss of chief technical officer Pat Fry to Williams, marks another setback for the Enstone team.
“After my departure, the previous management opted for a total overhaul that resulted in nearly fifteen staff members leaving,” Abiteboul said. “Often overlooked in F1 and other competitive fields is the fact that it takes years before new hires become effective. Rossi’s reshuffle hasn’t even had the chance to show results yet.”
In addition to suggesting a certain degree of impatience, Abiteboul added that the constant personnel changes also hinted at possible overconfidence or arrogance at the season’s onset.
He said that if a team refuses to face reality, they may end up deceiving themselves with overly positive narratives.
“While Alpine is not too far behind, their competitive edge fluctuates significantly. Red Bull, however, remains unaffected. Alpine consistently underperforms. Their initial car competitiveness was subpar and they’ve failed to make the kind of substantial upgrade other teams have,” he concluded.
Additional reporting by Ben Vinel
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Alpine F1’s 100-race strategy
Who recently dismissed team boss Szafnauer and sporting manager Alan Permane from Alpine F1?
The dismissal of team boss Szafnauer and sporting manager Alan Permane from Alpine F1 was announced just ahead of the Belgian Grand Prix. This move was made a week after Renault CEO Luca de Meo replaced Laurent Rossi with Philippe Krief as the CEO of the Alpine brand.
Who took over as interim team principal for Alpine F1?
Bruno Famin stepped in as the interim team principal for Alpine F1 following the dismissal of team boss Szafnauer.
What is Cyril Abiteboul’s current role?
As of 2023, Cyril Abiteboul is the team boss for Hyundai in the World Rally Championship (WRC).
Why does Abiteboul think Alpine F1’s 100-race strategy is flawed?
Abiteboul believes the 100-race strategy is flawed because it is arbitrary and does not take into consideration the strategies and progress of other teams in Formula 1. He thinks that such a rigid plan sets the team up for failure, as it is impossible to anticipate the moves of other teams in the competition.
What is the impact of Alpine’s frequent personnel changes according to Abiteboul?
Abiteboul suggests that the frequent personnel changes at Alpine have set the team back, as it takes time to persuade top talent from rival teams to join them. He believes these changes hint at overconfidence or arrogance, and the impact of the reshuffles has not been fully realized yet.