The news of team principal Otmar Szafnauer and sporting director Alan Permane’s departure from the French F1 team left Prost feeling dismayed, during a weekend of significant upheaval for the squad.
Prost, who served as an advisor and non-executive director for the Renault/Alpine team from 2015 to 2022, feels that the French automaker has committed a grave mistake by letting corporate politics take precedence.
“I am deeply saddened and upset by the current state of this team which I hold dear,” he expressed in a comprehensive interview with L’Equipe.
“The team deserves better and is equipped with all the necessary elements for success. To understand where things went wrong, one needs to look at the team’s history.”
“Success stories from the last three decades show a simple structure, not a complex industrial organization chart, centered around three or four strong individuals, including a winning driver,” he added.
Pierre Gasly, Alpine A523, Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB19
Photo by: Andy Hone / F1 Flow Images
Prost brought up the instances of Jean Todt collaborating with Ross Brawn and Michael Schumacher at Ferrari, Mercedes featuring Toto Wolff, Niki Lauda, and James Allison alongside Lewis Hamilton, and Christian Horner and Adrian Newey’s partnership with Red Bull leading to championships with Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen.
He further pointed out that these winning combinations were backed by CEOs of parent companies who not only understood but also supported the F1 team’s efforts – a quality he finds missing at Renault.
“They were familiar with the workings of F1 and allowed their team the flexibility to make decisions. Red Bull’s choice not to collaborate with Porsche stems from the refusal to bend to top-heavy decisions from those with no F1 knowledge.”
“I’ve often heard at the Renault headquarters in Boulogne-Billancourt that F1 is a straightforward sport managed remotely by those in charge. This was a massive error, exemplified by the recent firing of the director, Laurent Rossi.”
“Laurent Rossi epitomizes the Dunning-Kruger effect; a poor manager who misguidedly believes that arrogance can compensate for incompetence, and who is indifferent towards his employees.”
“Despite only being Alpine’s boss for a year and a half, he falsely assumed he knew everything. His management derailed the momentum the team had gathered since 2016, leading to victories and podium finishes.”
The Dunning-Kruger effect refers to a situation where someone’s lack of knowledge and skills in a specific field leads them to overestimate their own ability.
Although Bruno Famin, Alpine’s interim team principal, asserts that the team has a strategy to achieve swift success in F1, Prost remains skeptical.
“Hopefully the personnel changes made on Friday will provide the necessary jolt to the team,” he commented.
“Looking at Renault’s past victories, you find a key figure – Flavio Briatore – and a legendary driver – Fernando Alonso – backed by a management team [Patrick Faure, Louis Schweitzer] that emphasized quick decision-making by specialists.”
“F1 directors are often invited to major company conferences to discuss agility and adaptability in management. It’s not often the reverse happens, where company executives are asked to speak on F1.”
Additional reporting by Benjamin Vinel
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Alpine F1 Management Changes
What changes recently occurred within the Alpine F1 team?
The team principal Otmar Szafnauer and sporting director Alan Permane recently exited the French F1 outfit. This is part of a significant shake-up in the team’s management structure.
Who has expressed disappointment over these changes?
Former advisor and non-executive director for the Renault/Alpine squad, Prost, has expressed his dismay at the recent changes within the team. He is saddened and distressed to see the state of the team.
What does Prost believe to be the mistake of the French sports car maker?
Prost believes that the French sports car maker has made a critical error in allowing too much corporate influence in the management of the F1 team.
What does Prost suggest as a successful team structure in F1?
Prost suggests a simple structure built around three or four strong personalities, including a winning driver. He cites examples from Ferrari, Mercedes, and Red Bull.
Who does Prost criticize as an example of the Dunning-Kruger effect?
Prost criticizes the recent director of the Alpine team, Laurent Rossi, as an example of the Dunning-Kruger effect. He believes Rossi’s arrogance and lack of humanity towards his people have contributed to the team’s struggles.
Does Prost believe in the current interim team principal’s plan for the team?
While the interim team principal Bruno Famin is convinced that the team has a plan to achieve success quickly in F1, Prost remains unconvinced.