Even though Red Bull and Max Verstappen won the Belgian Grand Prix by a large margin, all eyes were on Alpine as they made a major move over the weekend that involved the departure of numerous high-profile team members. In a recent interview, Alpine's Interim Team Principal Bruno Famin stressed that the business is "not in a hurry" to acquire new employees. Otmar Szafnauer, Alan Permane, and Pat Fry, Alpine's Director of Sport, Director of Sporting Operations, and Chief Technical Officer, all left the team during the Belgian Grand Prix weekend. Prior to that, the Enstone-based squad also lost two-time world champion Fernando Alonso and a promising rookie in Oscar Piastri, who has been doing very well in the newly updated McLaren MCL60. Famin's term as Interim Team Principal will begin with the Dutch Grand Prix, after his elevation from Vice President of Alpine Motorsports. Laurent Rossi, in his new post as director of "special projects," will report directly to Philippe Krief, the company's newly appointed CEO.
F1: Why So Many Changes in Alpine Management?
So far this season, Alpine has not been able to meet the high standards set by Luca de Meo, CEO of Renault Group. Last year, the French team finished in fourth place, and De Meo predicted that they will repeat that result in 2023 while also closing the performance gap with Red Bull, Mercedes, and Ferrari.
But after the first race, the team's chances of achieving that aim were bleak, as they are currently at sixth in the constructors' championship, behind Aston Martin and McLaren. There has been a number of operational mistakes, the reliability has been poor, and the pace of progress has lagged well below expectations.
It is known that the Renault E-Tech RE23's power unit is inferior to that of other grid vehicles. That's why they're lobbying to make all electricity sources equally accessible. As it is, there is a freeze on PU development, with only improvements for dependability approved. According to reports, Renault's power shortfall to its competitors is 15kw, or around 0.25 seconds each lap. That increases to 0.4s at tracks like Silverstone. Approximately 0.1s is typical in the Hungaroring's low-speed layout.
F1: A Year on Alpine- Piastri Saga
Alpine, owned by Renault, is in disarray once again as the Formula 1 summer break approaches, just as it was a year ago when Fernando Alonso unexpectedly announced his departure and Oscar Piastri ruled out replacing him.
Silly season was in full swing a few hours later when a video appeared on the new Instagram account of the four-time World Champion declaring his retirement from Formula 1 at the end of 2022. While Alpine continues to struggle, former team members, Alonso and Piastri have found success in different environments.
A legal battle ensued between Alpine, McLaren, and the FIA about who had a legitimate contract with the young Australian for the 2023 season. The Contract Recognitions Board ultimately sided with McLaren. McLaren had a rough start to the year, to put it mildly, with a sluggish vehicle while Piastri learned the ropes and Lando Norris did his best to maintain the outstanding form he had shown in previous seasons.
Piastri, however, has been right on his teammate's pace in the last three races after a slew of upgrades and a better understanding of the car himself. In the sprint in Spa, he led his first F1 laps, qualified on the front row for that race, and came oh-so-close to a first podium finish.