Alpine enthusiasm for F1 decreases: Time to sell to Andretti?


alpine less and less enthusiastic about f1, time to sell?
18 June at 13:00
Last update 18 June at 13:11
  • Ludo van Denderen

The team in the rear of Formula 1, with just five points. The team where there has been considerable internal turmoil for ages, resulting in a huge shuffle of staff and executives. The team with two drivers who can drink each other's blood. And maybe soon the team that will continue as a customer team, with a Honda or Red Bull Powertrain engine?

When Formula One management and their owner Liberty Media rejected the ambitious Andretti Global as the eleventh team on the F1 grid, this was the dreaded scenario: the Americans would not add value sports-wise, would not be commercially attractive and, moreover, would not be a factory team (at least not until Cadillac supported Andretti with its own power unit in '28). Therefore, in the king class of motorsport, Andretti did not have much business, was the thinking.

Yet, the description as in the opening paragraph of this story is not about Andretti, it is about Alpine. The French team are currently active in Formula 1, but they are slowly beginning to take on all the characteristics that meant Andretti should not have a place in F1. Especially if indeed it is decided to stop using the Renault engine. It is precisely designing and building their own power unit as well as being a factory team that distinguishes the top teams in the sport from the lesser gods.

Alpine could not break through to the top

Alpine tried for years to nestle between Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull Racing (a factory team of sorts thanks to Honda) with their own Renault engine, but despite huge investments, expectations never materialised. The news that Alpine are considering abandoning the Renault power unit - that would mean it would no longer be a factory team -, is further evidence that enthusiasm among the company's high-ups about participating in Formula 1 is decreasing.

After all, developing a strong power unit costs money, a lot of money. After the last few years, there seems to be little interest in releasing a hefty budget again and hoping that this can be used to find the way up in Formula 1. Whichever way you look at it, as a customer team you always have a disadvantage compared to the party that developed the power unit (although Red Bull did manage to win races with - the irony - a Renault engine at the time). That is a consequence Alpine is apparently willing to accept.

The first step towards a farewell to Formula 1?

At the same time, one cannot escape the impression that the disposal of the Renault power unit is a first step towards a final farewell to Formula 1. After all, what if the team is not competing for prizes with, say, a Honda or Ferrari engine either? In that case, it would not be difficult to pull the plug completely on the F1 project and focus on the WEC team - which, by the way, also had a dramatic 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Meanwhile, Michael Andretti will follow developments at Alpine with great interest. With all his love, he will take over Alpine's estate, to build on his own team from there. With a factory engine.