Former boss slams Renault Alpine team

Cyril Abiteboul very critical of Alpine’s current situation. Abiteboul, the former managing director of the Alpine F1 team when it was still known as Renault, has spoken out about the eventful weekend behind the scenes at his former team.

The team announced in the middle of the Belgian Grand Prix the simultaneous departures of such big names as Otmar Szafnauer [team principal], Pat Fry [technical director] and Alan Permane [sporting director]. A week earlier, Alpine CEO Laurent Rossi was also dismissed by management.


Abiteboul does not mince words

As a former Renault F1 boss, Cyril Abiteboul is perhaps best placed to decipher the current situation at Alpine, and the Frenchman, who was sacked on the eve of the 2021 season and replaced by Laurent Rossi, doesn’t mince his words when asked about the team’s recent announcements.

“This reflects dissatisfaction with the results and very probably a loss of patience on the part of the Renault group’s management committee. As well as impatience, there may also have been a bit of arrogance at the start of the season, or an excess of confidence,” says Abiteboul, a consultant for France Info.

“When you don’t face up to reality, after a while you can tell yourself stories. It’s not out of the question that the story we were telling ourselves internally was too flattering. But Alpine isn’t that far away either.

“The times can sometimes be good, or even very good, at other times much less good. But Alpine isn’t the only one in this situation. The variations in competitiveness are for everyone this season, apart from Red Bull, who have such an advantage that they manage to get out of every situation, even messy ones.”


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Alpine has thrown away a lot of points

The Frenchman highly critical of his former team, says that they continuously operate ‘a notch below’.

“Alpine is the opposite, they’re always a notch below. Sometimes it’s their fault, sometimes it’s not. They lost a lot of points, which put them 6th in the constructors’ championship, a long way from their stated objectives.

“The car’s competitiveness at the start of the season was below par, and they haven’t had the kind of miraculous evolution that other teams have had: McLaren recently, Mercedes, Ferrari and Aston Martin at the start of the season. Alpine hasn’t pulled the card that would get them out of the swamp.”


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The famous 100-race plan…

As soon as he took over at the helm of Alpine in 2021, Laurent Rossi unveiled a plan to challenge for the world title after 100 races. This plan was recently revised upwards by Rossi himself, who admitted a few weeks ago before his ousting that Alpine might need a little more time to achieve Formula 1 victories.

For Cyril Abiteboul, Laurent Rossi was wrong from the outset with his 100-race plan, not least because in Formula 1 it’s very difficult to control what the competition is doing:

“Plans to quantify 100 Grands Prix, why not 120, why not 80… I don’t understand them,” added Abiteboul.


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“When you start putting forward a plan like that, you’re sure to be wrong because you don’t know what the others are doing in Formula 1. Aston Martin’s colossal investments, Red Bull’s mind-blowing momentum, all that isn’t going to stop just because we arrived at Laurent Rossi’s Grand Prix 99.”

“The previous management was keen to do a complete reset after I left, which dismissed around fifteen people. We underestimate this all the time in F1, as in other ultra-competitive sectors: it takes time to get someone from the competition.

“When you lose 15 people and you recruit… it takes two or three years before it takes effect. The reshuffle that Laurent Rossi wanted to make, we haven’t even really seen the results.


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A word about the Gasly/Ocon duo

As a French team, Alpine has played the patriotism card 100% by fielding two French drivers in its two cars, Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly, who joined the team this season. But for Cyril Abiteboul, there can’t be two great drivers in the same team, and he takes Red Bull and Mercedes as examples.

“Two names is one too many. When you close your eyes and think of Mercedes, you think of Lewis Hamilton, even though Nico Rosberg has done some extraordinary things,” explains Abiteboul.

“When you think of Red Bull, you think of the first cycle around Sebastian Vettel, then the second cycle around Max Verstappen. There is a need to have a driver who is also a bit of a team boss, and this strength of embodiment is fundamental.

“Today, the grid is very competitive, with all the cars finishing on the same lap. In a while, we’re going to see a virtual equality of arms, and what’s going to make the difference is ambition and determination.”

Abiteboul’s insights shed light on the challenges faced by Alpine and offer valuable perspectives on the team’s future prospects in Formula 1.

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