Alpine boss axed

Alpine CEO Laurent Rossi pounded his fist on the table last weekend in Miami and now expects concrete results from his Formula 1 team, indeed the chief of Renault Alpine won’t accept the resource excuse at Alpine F1 and is on the war path following the Miami Grand Prix.

It will have escaped no one’s notice that last weekend in Miami, Renault Group CEO Luca de Meo and Alpine CEO Laurent Rossi “raided” the F1 paddock to set the record straight for the Alpine team, which has shown “a lack of commitment to the sport” and “amateurism” in the early part of the year, in Laurent Rossi’s own words.


CEO rages against Alpine & Szafnauer

The team boss, Otmar Szafnauer, is certainly in the cross hairs as the French manufacturer’s on-track performances are clearly not up to scratch at the beginning of the season with two races to forget out of the five already contested: firstly, the Australian Grand Prix with a double crash at the end of the race for the two Alpine drivers, and secondly, the Baku Grand Prix in Azerbaijan where a series of operational errors mainly affected Pierre Gasly’s car throughout the weekend.


In addition to these two failed weekends, the first race of the season in Bahrain also had its share of errors, with Esteban Ocon getting his car wrongly positioned on the grid and receiving a first penalty, then a second after one of the mechanics touched his car while he was serving the first penalty. This was followed by a third penalty for driving too fast in the pit lane.



Alpine ‘not where they should be’ in F1 championship

CEO Laurent Rossi’s outburst last weekend in Miami was therefore entirely legitimate and, although some will accuse him of “management by terror”, it is clear that Alpine – with all the resources the team has at its disposal – is not where it should be at the start of the year.

“It’s a difficult year ahead, we’re only at the beginning of the year, so I don’t want to give up, but a few things have to change,” said Laurent Rossi in an exclusive interview for the championship website.

“We have to continue to strengthen the team to get back to performance. The state of mind is one of the things that has to change, because it’s largely the same team as last year. That’s something that needs to change for the team members now and for the new people we’re going to add.”



Team needs to ‘admit mistakes’

Rossi further points the finger towards the team itself, ergo the team boss who is responsible for the direction and results.

“It starts with admitting your mistakes, not repeating mistakes and learning from your mistakes. It’s good to make mistakes, but it’s not good to make them twice because that means you haven’t learned.

“This year there are a lot of excuses that lead to poor performance and a lack of operational excellence.”

“I need to tackle this. I need the right people to deal with it. I need the team to be aware that they have to do it because it’s not up to me – it’s up to them, they have to do it.”

“It’s their responsibility. I hope they make the same diagnosis. I tell them clearly that this is the diagnosis and they have to fix it.”



Szafnauer under extreme pressure

Irritated by the situation, Laurent Rossi does not hesitate to put all the pressure on the current team boss, the American Otmar Szafnauer, who joined Alpine in 2022 after several years with Racing Point, which became Aston Martin in 2021.

“He is the one responsible for the performance of the team. That’s his job,” added Laurent Rossi of Szafnauer.

“There’s nothing to hide, Otmar has been brought in to lead the team throughout the season and the following seasons towards the goals we have set ourselves – which is to constantly progress as we did in the first two years by finishing fifth and fourth – and to get to the podiums.

“So it’s his mission to turn this team around and get it to the performance we want.”


READ MORE – Steiner: Two huge problems for Haas


Rossi: Alpine ‘going backwards’

“We had a team that performed reasonably well last year, getting fourth [in the world championship], which is the best improvement we’ve had for a long time. We showed a lot of promise.” admits Rossi,

“Now it’s more or less the same people, so I don’t accept that we’re not able to maintain that. So yes, it’s Otmar and the rest of his team [responsible], because Otmar alone doesn’t do everything, but the responsibility stops with Otmar. It’s Otmar’s responsibility, yes.”



Confidence in Szafnauer ‘eroded’

One of the keys to success in a Formula 1 team is the trust a manager can place in his employees and when asked if he still has confidence in Szafnauer, Laurent Rossi replied:

“Confidence is something that increases with good results and erodes with bad results.”

“Everyone starts with a capital of confidence and then you have to manage it. There are only so many setbacks we can have in a sport, in a competitive world, because it basically shows. Everyone can tell if we are going in the right direction or the wrong direction.”

“So it directly impacts your confidence capital. I would say Otmar is very capable, but he has a big job to do.”


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Not about money or resources

Renault has invested heavily in its Formula One team over the past few years and continues to do so, including the upcoming delivery of a brand new simulator, while also committing to providing Alpine with enough money to push the cost cap for the next decade.

“Enstone has never had so many resources at its disposal for a number of years. the project here is over ten years. But with financial support comes expectations.

“If we’re going to talk numbers, Renault spends half a billion euros on F1. So it’s no wonder they want a return on that investment, especially when they’ve seen the meteoric rise of Aston Martin.”


“Aston has fewer engineers than us as far as I know. They don’t have their own wind tunnel yet, they don’t have their factory up and running at the moment [a new factory is being built]. They have accelerated the development by getting the right people to join them.

“It shows that it all depends on creativity and efficiency. That’s the rule of the game, we know that. So no, I’m sorry but I don’t accept the resource excuse.”


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Alpine Renault to ‘stay for 10 years’ in F1

To cut through all the speculation, Rossi also said that Alpine will still be in Formula 1 in ten years’ time, but it doesn’t sound like Szafnauer will be part of that:

“We have to stabilise the course. There is no doubt that we will be here in 10 years. The team is going to change, like all the other teams, it’s about strengthening the team to get there as soon as possible.”



Szafnauer axed

“The team managed to get fourth. They have the means to get fourth, more so than others. I want them to be fourth. If they don’t, it’s going to be a failure.

“If they fail by giving 500% best and turning this ship around, there will be extenuating circumstances and it bodes well for the future. If not, it’s the rule of business, there’s going to be consequences. 

“And I won’t wait until the end of the year…”

There can only be one explanation for this remarkable outburst, in which Szafnauer is named as “responsible” and that is Laurent Rossi is looking for a scapegoat to blame for the failure of his 100-race project, and he’s looking toward the Renault Board of Directors when publically hanging his team boss.


After the Miami Grand Prix, Alpine is tied on points with McLaren (14 points) and is therefore currently fighting for fifth place in the constructors’ championship. The French manufacturer’s team is still 64 points behind Ferrari in fourth place.

It is hard to imagine that Szafnauer will still be in charge when the next Grand Prix takes place in Imola next week.

READ MORE – Red Bull reacts: Toto Wolff issues ‘advice’ to Horner



2 responses to “Alpine boss axed

  1. can you stop lying with your headings. this is the second article in a row on this topic where your heading is untrue

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