Alain Prost, renowned Formula 1 legend, a historical associate of Renault, a previous non-executive of the team, and former F1 world champion with a Renault-powered Williams cars, did not hold back in his criticism of the struggling Alpine F1 team, raging his displeasure with the team’s situation.
Despite his long-standing affiliation with the French carmaker, Prost did not hesitate to launch a full-scale attack on the Alpine F1 team, particularly targeting its former CEO, Laurent Rossi, whom he deemed “incapable.”
Senior staff ousted
The Renault-owned team is currently facing a crisis following a wave of departures by key personnel. The latest exits include team principal Otmar Szafnauer, sporting director Alan Permane, and chief technical officer Pat Fry, all of whom are leaving after the Belgian Grand Prix.
These departures come on the heels of Rossi’s recent replacement as CEO, adding to the uncertainty surrounding the Enstone-based team. Over the past 18 months, Alpine has also witnessed the departures of double world champion Fernando Alonso, rising star Oscar Piastri, and former executive director Marcin Budkowski.
Backstabbing at Alpine
Otmar ‘to blame’ for the team’s bad start to the season claimed the exiting CEO Laurent Rossi ahead of the Miami Grand Prix earlier this year. The American team boss had only been in the job since January having left Aston Martin, a very short space of time of which to have an influence on the team’s fortunes one might argue. Such backstabbing in the public domain pointed towards huge internal pressure for Alpine to deliver.
“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.”
Prost rages at former team
Having previously been associated with the Alpine team as a non-executive director until his contentious departure in January 2022, Prost is deeply connected to Renault’s legacy. In his column for French newspaper L’Equipe, Prost expressed his disappointment at the current state of the team, stating that it deserves better.
“I love this team and seeing it in this state today saddens me. She deserves better and has all the assets to get there,” the 68-year-old wrote.
Drawing on history, Prost emphasized the importance of a simple structure detached from an industrial-organisational chart, with a core group of strong personalities alongside a champion driver for success in F1.
“I just believe that you have to rely on history to understand the error.” said Prost,
“If you look at the great successes of the last 30 years, you will find a simple structure, detached from an industrial organization chart, built around three or four strong personalities coupled with a champion driver.”
— Formula 1 (@F1) July 27, 2023
Prost points finger at Rossi
However, he believes that Alpine has deviated from this formula for a long time, and he did not mince words when it came to his opinion of the recent team CEO, Rossi.
Prost accused Rossi of lacking the required qualities to lead the team effectively, asserting that F1 is not a simple sport that can be run from home by executives in place. This sentiment was further highlighted when Renault CEO, Luca de Meo, made the decision to part ways with Rossi just a week ago.
“During my years at Renault, how many times have I heard in the corridors of the headquarters in Boulogne-Billancourt that F1 was a simple sport that could be run from home by men in place?
“Big mistake – as proven by the last of the leaders, Laurent Rossi, from whom [Renault CEO] Luca de Meo removed a week ago.”
Prost rages against Rossi
Prost then makes things personal, raging against Rossi’s abilities and methods in the team:
“Laurent Rossi is the finest example of the Dunning-Kruger effect, that of an incapable leader who thinks he can overcome his incompetence by his arrogance and lack of humanity towards his troops.”
“The man who was Alpine’s boss for 18 months thought he had it all figured out from the outset, when in fact he was totally mistaken. His management broke the momentum that had been built up since 2016 to get to these podiums and this victory.”
“Hopefully Friday’s decision to change other heads will be a salutary electroshock for the team.”
“If you look back to when Renault was successful, you’ll find one man, Flavio Briatore, and a legendary driver, Fernando Alonso, supported by a management that at the time applied this philosophy of rapid decision-making by specialists.”
“Amusing to see that F1 executives are often invited to management conferences for large groups to talk about responsiveness and flexibility. Rarely the opposite…”