Column | Alpine makes a fool of themselves with their training programme without a vision
Alpine F1 Media

Column | Alpine makes a fool of themselves with their training programme without a vision

16-11-2021 07:28

I wonder how Caio Collet and Victor Martins view the Oscar Piastri reserve role. They must be thinking: "If he doesn't get a seat, I'm not going to get one at all. As an Alpine talent, you'd better pack your bags, because they have been lacking vision for years.

Training Programmes

A training program of Formula 1 teams is mainly meant to give young drivers a path towards F1. A lot of money is spent to let those drivers drive in the different starting classes and to place them with the best teams. However, F1 teams are also businesses, so they don't do it for free.

No, a Red Bull is known for giving young talent a chance, but they mainly do it to not have to buy that Sebastian Vettel or Max Verstappen from another team. With their programme, they make sure that the best talents choose Red Bull's training path, because there's a clear plan there.

Whether you're a fan of their approach or not, you have to hand it to Red Bull for having a clear plan. Talents are scouted and coached right from karting, and then it's up to the talents themselves to prove themselves. If you don't perform, you're immediately dropped, but if you do perform, there's a nice route waiting for you towards Formula 1.

Such a roadmap is ultimately what an F1 team is all about, because once you have such a great talent, you don't want to lose them to a competitor because you don't have a place for them. Where Red Bull and Ferrari and Mercedes have this roadmap ready for their talents, there is one piece missing in the Alpine route and that is the most important one: the step to Formula 1.

Alpine Academy

Alpine has, previously under the name of its parent company Renault, set up its own youth academy. Just like at Red Bull, the youngsters get the chance to prove themselves in Formula 4, 3 and 2, and progress step by step. However, Alpine has not thought about one thing and that is the step up to Formula 1.

The step for which you eventually put down your entire training has not been thought out by Alpine. The French brand has only one team in Formula 1 and therefore only two seats. This means that you always have to have one seat with a short-term contract to give yourself the flexibility to fit in a talent.

This is where it already goes wrong at Alpine. Esteban Ocon was offered a three year contract by the team, while he is not that impressive compared to Fernando Alonso. The Spaniard is still seen as the frontrunner, but with a deal for 2022 is he the one to go? So Ocon would become the benchmark for a new talent, while the Frenchman has yet to beat anyone from the established order(Daniel Ricciardo, Sergio Perez and Fernando Alonso) over a full season.

Lack of a B-team

It's understandable that Alpine doesn't want to keep young talents in the main team. A main team is no place to make mistakes and learn, that should happen in a smaller team. But Alpine doesn't have a partnership with another team, so they don't have the luxury to stable young talents somewhere else first.

There is also no question of a deal with Alfa Romeo. Yes, Guanyu Zhou is an Alpine talent, but the Chinese only gets the chance at Alfa Romeo because of his own pocket of money. The French team has not made a stand for their talents in that respect either. Where Red Bull forced Alexander Albon down the throat of Williams and Mercedes pushed for Nyck de Vries, Piastri's name was never mentioned.

Runaway Alpine talent

As an Alpine talent you can have fun in the step-up classes, but a Collet or Martins who are now active in F3 will wonder how they can ever get into F1. If an F3- and possibly F2-champion already has to make do with a reserve role, what about talents who for the time being are relying on a few podium finishes in F3?

The message is clear for Alpine talents: Get out of here, as fast as possible! There is no clear vision at Alpine. Their training program is a poor copy of the competition. They started doing it 'because the other big teams are doing it too', but did not think it through properly. You can see the difference with McLaren. They have scrapped their training. Why? Because they also don't have a place in F1 and therefore find it unnecessary to run a training course.

After remarkable choices in drivers and the management structure with two team bosses, this is yet another sign that the management of Alpine is just doing something. The choices seem not to be well thought out and there is no common thread. They just do something and that is a place where you do not want to be. Daniel Ricciardo has understood that well, now all the other talented people have to follow.

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