Fernando Alonso, who is never short of an opinion, has given his view of the current debacle that is Alpine F1. Alonso has a strong connection to the team, having achieved back-to-back championships with them in 2005-2006 under the Renault brand. However, Alonso does not tend to view the past in a nostalgic or overly positive manner for the present situation at Alpine F1 is chaotic at best. The team started 2023 with high hopes, but ultimately reached a mid-season low as changes to the management structure opened a wound that will take time to heal.
During the Belgian Grand Prix last weekend, Alpine F1 (previously known as Renault F1) declared their separation from team principal Otmar Szafnauer and sporting director Alan Permane, who had been with the team for a long time. Szafnauer had taken over as team principal in 2022, after leaving Aston Martin.
Although Alpine sits P6 in the constructors championship the team’s competitiveness is often track-specific with race updates not working to plan. This was too much for the management committee at Renault Group who decided to make changes. After contract talks broke down, Alonso exited the team in 2022 and immediately switched to Aston Martin for 2023.
Aston Martin started the season strong with impressive performances, including podium finishes by Alson. However, other teams have caught up and Aston Martin is now on the back foot. Despite this, Alonso was considering renewing his contract with Alpine for 2023. Unfortunately, he became dismayed when Szafnauer delayed contract renewal discussions. The rest, as they say, is history.
Alonso’s decision to join Aston Martin seems to have been well-timed, as Alpine is experiencing some turbulence while Aston Martin is on steady ground. Nonetheless, Alonso shared his frustrations with the media regarding the challenges he faced while trying to renew his contract with Renault as it rebranded into Alpine.
“It is the way they do things. Or the way Otmar does things. Because after this year, he should be quiet. He should not talk at all. After the results of Aston Martin and the results he’s achieving, he’s still talking and still proud of the decision, which is incredible, amazing.”
“So that slow pace of conversations and eventually not even putting on paper what we were writing and all these comments about the age and whatever, which they [Laurent Rossi, former Alpine CEO and Szafnauer] are still doing.
“I don’t think I felt disrespected, but it is true it took longer than I thought when we started conversations – I think it was in Australia back in [April] 2022 – about renewing the contract,” said Alonso.”
“It was just on a very slow pace, and it was not from my side. I was just ready and happy. The 2022 car was a fast car so I was also happy with the performance and the possibilities into the future.”
“When you are doing the best you can every weekend when I did so many things for Renault as well, you take a little bit personal when someone is doubting your performance or your age or these kinds of things.”
“And you just want to prove even extra hard that you are in the best moment of your career. The results, they speak for themselves, and that’s the best way.”