Struggling Alpine may be candidate for Andretti takeover

Mon, 4 March 2024, 09:00

Mar.4 (GMM) Questions are now being asked about how long Alpine will maintain the support of Renault.

In Bahrain, the stark reality of Alpine’s situation with its woeful 2024 car became clear.

“There are the top four teams, then Aston Martin, the rest and then Alpine,” new Haas team boss Ayao Komatsu told Ekstra Bladet after the season opener.

Last year, amid Alpine’s exodus of top staff, a quarter of the team was sold by Renault by investors – with some celebrities as the public face of the deal. It valued the team at about 800 million euros.

Still, the prospects for 2024 didn’t look great, also because the Renault engine – not used by a single customer team, thereby exacerbating the costs – is believed to be as much as half a second per lap behind every rival.

It was even rumoured that Alpine, ostensibly Renault’s works team, could switch to customer Mercedes power.

“Then I had to explain that without Renault engines there would no longer be a project, nor the chassis factory in Enstone,” team boss Bruno Famin told Auto Bild.

A disconsolate Pierre Gasly explains that Alpine also has bigger problems than mere lagging pace – like notably slow pitstops.

“Unfortunately we know it’s something we need to work on. Today it cost me 10 seconds,” he had said after Saturday’s Bahrain GP. “We know that it wouldn’t have given us any points, but in the future it will be important when we get closer to points again.”

And this weekend in Saudi Arabia, the performance situation is also likely to be woeful.

“We will not have any developments in Jeddah,” Gasly reported. “But we have to learn a lot of things about this new car. There are things to refine.

“After that, there will be no revolution and we will have to continue working step by step.”

Some might argue that swooping on the dire Alpine situation might now be the perfect opportunity for Andretti-Cadillac to enter F1 even without the sport’s blessing to become an eleventh team.

Indeed, if Andretti simply waits until 2028, as per F1’s suggestion, a new Concorde Agreement is likely to demand a ballooned $600m or more simply to become the eleventh team – on top of all the infrastructure costs of starting from scratch.

“Formula 1 made its position clear,” Red Bull team boss Christian Horner told reporters. “But it doesn’t mean that Andretti can’t come. It just means that they can’t come as a new or eleventh team.

“The opportunity still exists for them to take over an existing franchise or team, if they can reach commercial terms.”

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