Alpine, the French automotive brand owned by Renault, has officially announced a change in its leadership. Laurent Rossi, the former CEO of Alpine, has stepped down from his position as of Thursday, 20th July.
Laurent Rossi was the CEO of Automobiles Alpine and the Alpine F1 Team. Laurent Rossi was appointed CEO of Alpine when the Alpine name was added to the Formula One grid ahead of the 2021 FIA Formula One World Championship season.
A diverse history before F1
Laurent Rossi’s career journey began at Renault in the year 2000, where he joined the powertrain department. He was involved in managing various projects related to fine-tuning and calibration of gasoline engines, including direct injection engines, supercharged engines, and hybrid concepts.
In 2009, Rossi took a significant step in his career by earning an MBA from Harvard Business School. Shortly after, he was recruited by the Boston Consulting Group and worked as an automotive expert at their New York office.
In 2012, the path led him to Google, where he played a crucial role in establishing and nurturing business relationships with key accounts in the automotive industry.
However, in 2018, Rossi returned to Renault, this time as Vice President of Strategic Organisation. He continued to climb the ranks and eventually became the Director of Strategy & Business Development for Groupe Renault.
Rossi takes over Renault F1
Then, in a surprising turn of events with Cyril Abiteboul’s departure, Rossi was appointed as the CEO of Alpine in January 2021. In this new role, he reported directly to Luca de Meo, the CEO of Renault.
During his first season with Alpine, the team achieved notable milestones. Esteban Ocon secured a victory in Hungary, and Fernando Alonso reached the podium in Qatar. Alpine also secured a commendable fifth position in the constructors’ championship, trailing just behind AlphaTauri.
Replacing him is Philippe Krief, who will take over as the new CEO while continuing his existing role as the brand’s boss for engineering and product performance until a successor is appointed.
Philippe Krief brings a wealth of experience to the role, having graduated from the Ecole Nationale Supérieure de Techniques Avancées and worked at renowned companies such as Michelin and the Fiat Group. His career also includes stints at Ferrari and Maserati, where he held significant positions, such as boss of the vehicle department and technical director of the Alfa Romeo brand. Since June 2016, he has been serving as the Engineering Boss at Ferrari, and on 21st February 2023, he was appointed boss of engineering and product performance for the Alpine brand.
CEO of Renault pays tribute to Rossi
Luca De Meo, the CEO of the Renault Group, expressed his gratitude towards Laurent Rossi for his dedicated service during his two-year tenure as Alpine’s CEO. De Meo acknowledged Rossi’s clear and ambitious strategy that positioned Alpine for long-term success. The brand is now poised to enter a new phase of development, becoming a brand of the future.
De Meo conveyed his confidence in Philippe Krief and his team, believing they have the expertise and leadership qualities needed to steer Alpine to new heights. Additionally, De Meo praised Rossi for his contributions and revealed that Rossi will be involved in special projects connected to the group’s transformation.
The change in leadership marks a significant moment for Alpine, and with Philippe Krief at the helm, the brand looks forward to achieving its future goals, including the launch of new Alpine vehicles from the upcoming year.
Quite how the Alpine Formula 1 team will be affected, is anyone’s guess.
Rossi under pressure
Before his departure, what was clear was that Laurent Rossi was under extreme pressure to get the F1 team to deliver some results and stay on track to their ‘100 race’ project – The ultimate goal of winning a Formula 1 Championship.
We have a long-term project, the objective is to reach a level of competitiveness that places us on the podium as many times as possible in 2024,” Rossi told f1.com back in October 2021.
“From today in fifth, you can easily find a roadmap. It’s going to be every year a bit better. It’s a 100-race project, four years, four seasons.”
At the time Rossi’s targets were questionable given that in Formula One there is no team that delivers a consistent linear path of progression.
“Every race we must make progress. It can be progress you see on the track or progress you don’t see, all the little details. The idea is to never stop – and be able to see we’re going in the right direction.”
“All we want is to make sure we have a satisfactory level of performance when we start, which doesn’t put us too far from the top, And then from there, we can carry on our climb to the summit.”
Rossi names Szafnauer in public
What is clear now is the team is far from being ‘on track’ with Rossi’s own ‘100 race’ schedule, and the pressure to deliver mounted to the extreme when things slid backwards in 2023. This was evidenced by the unusual outburst from Rossi in the press, pointing the finger at Otmar Szafnauer ahead of the Miami Grand Prix this year.
Szafnauer was the team principal of the Alpine team who had not long moved over from the Aston Martin Racing F1 team last year.
Otmar ‘to blame’ says Rossi
“He is responsible for the performance of the team – that’s his job,” Rossi told F1.com.
“Otmar was brought in to steer the team, through the season and the next seasons towards the objectives that we have, which is to constantly make progress, as we did in the first two years – fifth and fourth – and to get to the podiums and therefore, this is his mission to turn this team around and bring it to the performance that we want.
“We had a team that performed reasonably well last year, got the fourth position which is the best improvement we had in a long time. It showed a lot of promise.
“It’s more of less the same people so I don’t accept that we are not capable of maintaining that.
“Yes, it is Otmar and the rest of his team as Otmar alone doesn’t do everything, but the buck stops with Otmar. It’s Otmar’s responsibility, yes.”
Interesting that it is Otmar Szafnauer who has outlasted Laurent Rossi at Alpine F1.