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Alpine Explain Dramatic F1 Team Changes: “Nobody Was Daring”

Alpine interim team principal, Bruno Famin, explains how the dramatic behind the scenes changes have actually helped the team....

Alpine had a very tumultuous 2023 season on the track with several DNFs and car problems, but off the track, the team was in pure chaos. Their team principal, Otmar Szafnauer, was removed as was veteran sporting director, Alan Permane. They were the most high-profile changes, but they were far from the only ones. Despite that, things started to get better towards the end of the season and Alpine’s acting team principal believes he knows why.

With Szafnauer ousted, Viry power unit boss, Bruno Famin, was named interim team principal (though that position seems more permanent now). Famin admitted that the team was “not where [they] wanted to be” but through the changes, they found staff with “untapped” potential who are “much freer to propose things, to improve.”

“I think that’s especially true on the track side, where I immediately saw a change in the mindset,” Famin told Motorsport. “We promoted, for example, [team manager] Rob Cherry and [chief mechanic] Jason Milligan, they are doing a very good job in proposing investments, in making sure their guys also propose things.

“I think all this potential was a bit capped until the end of July, and I’m very happy with that. It’s true for the garage, it’s true also for the track engineering, it’s true for the strategy, and we are daring things we were not daring before.”

Alpine to "Align the Planets"

While the car still isn’t perfect, Alpine are at least happy that the second half of the season saw the team earn more points than the first. A sign of progress for Famin and momentum on which to build.

“But what is sure now is that to be performant with such a level of competition you need to use the potential of everybody, and you need to align the planets,” Famin said.

“Then we need to be good in extracting the performance of the car, we need to be good in developing the car, in developing the engine, and even if we don’t have the best engine, maybe we don’t have the best car, I think we can align the planets altogether to have a good car at the end of the story, and to have good results.

“Of course, it won’t be for tomorrow, but the work now is to align the planets. Of course, there is the problem of the potential for improvement in the relations between Viry and Enstone, but to me it’s a small part of the project, of the work we need to do.”

Learning From Monza

Has this been working? Has the team really been more aligned and freer to propose new ideas? Famin believes so, pointing to the team’s reaction to their poor performance in Monza as evidence.

“I think we can see one very good example where I have been very pleased is the Vegas result,” he said. “Not for the fourth place – okay, we’re happy to be fifth in quali and fourth in the race – but by the fact that Monza was very bad, it was a very bad result.

“But we took the time to analyse why, what happened, where have we been wrong there, and immediately to propose new things, because Vegas was quite similar in some points.

“We were at risk in Vegas, if we were not doing things. Immediately the team reacted, proposed some aero evolution, developed it, produced it, and we had it on the car. Just in time, but we had it, and it worked. Before it would have been okay, we are 17 in Monza, we are 17.

“But now we had a very strong reaction and a very positive reaction, and it paid off. The position at the end, the final result is the attitude which was very good. It’s an example of things that already changed.”

The 100-Race Plan is Gone

Remember the 100-race plan? That seems to be gone as Famin exclaims that he has “no idea of how long it will take” and that he doesn’t want to “fix a target.” There are plenty of things that need to be done, though high on Famin’s priority list is ensuring that the Viry factory and the Enstone factory are on the same page by improving communications between the two sites and removing what remains of the blame culture.

“When I arrived in Viry, a bit more than one and half years ago I remember that some guys, not everybody, were telling me we have only one customer team now,” Famin said. “”What? It’s not a customer team, it’s our team, it’s our works team!

“And when I arrived in Enstone I was sometimes hearing that with a Mercedes engine we will go faster. Now okay, the Mercedes engine is 15 kilowatts more for sure, but with a Mercedes engine there will be just no project and no Enstone anymore…

“There is a quite complex history, especially between Enstone and the Renault Group, that’s the reality. Sold I don’t know how many times, bought I don’t know many times!

“And it makes things difficult for sure. But you know, relations between the power unit factory and the chassis factory, you can see it everywhere, it’s not specific to the Alpine project.

“I think everybody is convinced now that we are one team, we have one project, and we have one goal.”

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