Jul.29 (GMM) French F1 legend Alain Prost is “sad” about the turmoil currently taking place at the Renault-owned Alpine team.
Amid performance difficulties, shareholding and management shakeups have also been the order of the day at the Enstone and Viry-based outfit over the past weeks and months.
It got even more chaotic at Spa-Francorchamps as the team suddenly announced that boss Otmar Szafnauer, long-serving Alan Permane and well-known technical chief Pat Fry are all departing with almost immediate effect.
Fry has already been signed by Williams.
Interim Alpine boss Bruno Famin explained: “We were not on the same line on the timeline to recover or reach the level of performance we are aiming for.”
He said a new full-time boss will be decided “later on”, but the paddock grapevine is already whispering out-of-work former Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto’s name.
“We’re not at that stage,” Famin insisted.
“I think I’m going to assess the situation, think about the priorities, consolidate everything and then define if we need a new structure or not. When that will be done, we will see,” he added when asked about Binotto.
This latest upheaval coincides with the FIA agreeing at the F1 Commission meeting on Friday that Renault’s current engine is almost 30 horsepower down on every other rival on the grid.
“The F1 Commission discussed ways to remedy this discrepancy,” a statement confirmed.
Famin admits: “The engine is down, but I don’t think it’s so down. It’s not the best engine on the grid, for sure.”
At the meeting, it is believed Alpine’s rivals rejected the request to allow Renault to simply turn up the fuel flow rate to instantly improve engine power.
As for Szafnauer, Permane and Fry’s departures, former F1 driver Timo Glock questions the mid-season timing.
“It just brings unrest to the team,” he told Sky Deutschland. “The timing is extremely unfortunate.”
French F1 legend Alain Prost is also dismayed at the goings-on at Renault’s F1 team.
“First, I am very attached to this team,” he told L’Equipe. “Renault allowed me to race and fight for a world title for the first time. And then I was involved in the Enstone-Viry structure in more recent years.
“I love this team and seeing it in this state today just saddens me. It deserves better and has everything it needs to get there. I just believe they have to rely on history to understand the error,” Prost said.
“If you look at the great successes of the last 30 years, you will find simple structures, a detachment from an industrial organisation chart, and a team built around three or four strong personalities together with a champion driver.”