The 2023 Formula 1 summer break is in full swing, presenting the opportunity to take stock of how each side’s season has unfolded ahead of the season’s resumption.
Lofty expectations and middling results have combined to create plenty of drama behind the scenes at Alpine in 2023.
The Enstone-based squad set out a goal at the start of the season to close the gap to the top three teams after finishing fourth in the Construcutors’ Championship in 2022 with 173 points, still 342 points adrift of third-placed Mercedes.
However, currently Alpine resides in a lonely sixth in the standings with only 57 points. Aside from being overhauled by Aston Martin over the winter, Alpine has also been rapidly out-developed by McLaren recently to place 46 points behind the Woking side ahead of the second half of the season.
Despite slipping down the competitive order, Esteban Ocon executed a fabulous weekend to score a memorable third-place finish in Monaco. Therefore, Ocon has accumulated the bulk of Alpine’s tally with 35 points to his name, leaving him 13 clear of new team-mate Pierre Gasly.
However, both drivers would have expected better by this stage, as would the Renault Group, who undeniably had bolder ambitions when they re-bought the Enstone team ahead of the 2016 season with the aim of returning the side to the pinnacle.
As a result, a raft of changes to the Alpine F1 management ranks have been made in recent times.
Former Alpine CEO Laurent Rossi publicly sent out a warning to the team to improve its performances or else reap the consequences after the opening five races resulted in two scoreless weekends and only a best finish of eighth. Little did Rossi know at the time that one consequence would include him being moved aside amid the recent reshuffle.
In July, Bruno Famin was promoted from Managing Director of Alpine’s powertrain department in Viry-Châtillon to Vice-Presient of Alpine Motorsports, a role that placed him between Rossi and then Team Principal Otmar Szafnauer.
10 days after Famin’s promotion, however, Rossi was moved elsewhere within the Renault Group in favour of new Alpine CEO Philippe Krief – but the biggest shakeup to the team’s management structure was yet to come.
On the Friday of the Belgian Grand Prix weekend, it was announced that Szafnauer would be leaving his post as Team Principal and long-standing Sporting Director Alan Permane would be exiting alongside him. This announcement came in tandem with notice that Pat Fry was jumping ship to join Williams.
Alpine cited Szafnauer’s dismissal as being due to him “not being on the same timeline” regarding the team’s aims to ascend the F1 pecking order, but the ex-Team Principal has since retorted that Alpine lacks “understanding” toward building an F1 team.
Amid all the management chaos, Alpine signed off prior to the summer break on a somewhat positive note at Spa, with Gasly managing to finish third in the Sprint Race.
In the short term, Gasly has stated how the summer break is important for the team to “process“‘ the changes made in its hierarchy, while Technical Director Matt Harman remains confident Alpine can still emerge as the fourth fastest team come the end of the season.