Formula 1 Racing

Gasly goes from third choice to first signing in rare good news story at Alpine · RaceFans

Alan Permane, Otmar Szafnauer, Spa-Francorchamps, Alpine, 2023

Today’s announcement that Pierre Gasly has recommitted to Alpine comes as welcome positive news for the team which has endured 12 months of negative headlines.

In its ninth season since Renault returned to Formula 1 as a full manufacturer, and the fourth since the team was rebranded as Alpine, doubt has been cast over its future. The team failed to capitalise on the opportunity presented by the drastic change in technical regulations two years ago.

Having briefly risen to fourth in the championship when F1’s new rules arrived in 2022, they fell to a distant sixth last year. They started this season with the slowest car in the field and although they have recovered to seventh, it remains to be seen whether their car has the sheer performance for them to rise much higher.

Alongside and partly because of this, the team has suffered a string of eye-catching departures among its senior staff. Some of these like former sporting director Alan Permane and operations director Rob White have taken decades of experience with them.

Exits of Permane and Szafnauer came as a shock

They followed other changes at the top. Overall Alpine CEO Laurent Rossi departed 12 months ago, shortly after blasting their performances in the opening races of last season as “unacceptable” and “amateurish”. Soon afterwards Otmar Szafnauer, who only joined as team principal at the beginning of 2022, was shown the door.

Around the same time their chief technical officer Pat Fry left to join Williams. The team’s poor start to its latest campaign led to the departures of their technical director and head of aerodynamics.

As the various ‘five-year’ and ‘100-race’ plans proffered since Renault’s full-scale return had so obviously failed to bear fruit, questions were inevitably asked over the team’s future. Earlier this month Renault CEO Luca de Meo firmly denied rumours the team is up for sale. However De Meo’s next move, rehiring disgraced former Renault team principal Flavio Briatore as a consultant, added more fuel to the fire.

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The mood music around the team has therefore not been encouraging. One of the most startling rumours to emerge in recent weeks was the suggestion they might cease using Renault engines in 2026 and take a customer supply from another manufacturer.

Pierre Gasly, Alpine, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 2024
Gasly will stay at Alpine, but will he still have a Renault engine?

For a manufacturer team, developing their own power unit, and…

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