Will Alpine's management change work out just as well as Mercedes' did?

08-03-2021 11:27 | Updated: 08-03-2021 11:34
Will Alpine's management change work out just as well as Mercedes' did?

Alpine are at the start of their first season in Formula 1 under a new name. In addition to a new name they also have an entirely new livery, a new leader and also new management. Will this help them move towards the front runners or will they fall further back?

The return of Renault

Since Renault returned to Formula 1, their ambitions have been clear. After the successes of 2005 and 2006, Renault returned to Formula 1 in 2016 to become world champion again. Of course, that wouldn't happen in a year, but a five-year plan was drawn up with the aim of competing for the title in 2021.

Cyril Abiteboul's fairy tale was slightly different. Where from 2016 to 2018 an upward trend could be seen to fourth place among the constructors, the team stuck there. In fact, in 2019 Renault fell further down to P5, and in 2020 that performance was matched, despite a decline from Ferrari.

Despite the fact that the last year of the five-year plan was yet to commence, it was clear that the path taken was no longer good enough. Abiteboul had promised podium places in 2019 and victories in 2020. They did secure three podiums in 2020 however, these were not achieved through pure speed, but by dropouts among drivers of the top teams.

End for Abiteboul

So the course had to change at Renault, which has all its arrows aimed at 2022. Then the new rules come into effect, and there could be an ideal chance to move towards the front of the grid. However, it is important to have a good organization that can steer the team towards such successes. Abiteboul was no longer seen by the French manufacturer as that man.

With Laurent Rossi there is a new CEO of Alpine F1, and the role of team boss will be divided between two people. Marcin Budkowski is responsible for the chassis and engine, while Davide Brivio will focus on racing. 

It is a bit reminiscent of 2005. Fernando Alonso is back at Renault, has an Italian management over him, and will drive a blue Renault. This time, however, it is an Alpine car and the team is in a slightly more challenging position. The engine will not be further developed, and little could be done to the car before 2021.

New management at Alpine

2021 is, therefore (just like 2019 and 2020) seen as a transition year. The new management and the new leader (Alonso) must find their place in the organization and ensure that they are as well prepared as possible for 2022, so maybe we shouldn't expect much from 2021.

Normally, a new organization needs time to achieve success, but there are also examples where it has been done quickly. For example, the arrival of Toto Wolff in 2013, who steered the Mercedes team in the right direction towards the new rules of 2014. The foundation had already been laid by Ross Brawn, but Wolff was just the right man to give the final push.

Can Rossi, Brivio and Budkowski do what Abiteboul couldn't do? Abiteboul brought Renault back into Formula 1 and to the top of midfield. With a driver like Daniel Ricciardo he even got lured top and established drivers to the team, but they did not manage to breach the gap. In 2022 it will become clear whether this change has worked out well for Alpine, or whether it was just too late.

This article was originally written by Tim for GP Blog NL.

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