Alpine’s technical turmoil: Key figures exit amid performance crisis

Alpine’s Formula 1 journey through the 2023 season and into the 2024 campaign has been anything but smooth, with former team boss Otmar Szafnauer pinpointing “bad decisions” as the root of their current predicament. The team’s struggles were starkly highlighted at the Bahrain Grand Prix, where drivers Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly languished at the back of the grid, a performance underscoring deeper issues within the team’s structure and strategy.

Szafnauer’s critique sheds light on the internal turmoil and management upheavals that have plagued the team, leading to significant departures, including that of technical director Matt Harman and aero chief Dirk de Beer. “The stopwatch doesn’t lie, and it doesn’t look good. People at the highest level have made some bad decisions. Firing people and not providing security within the team from a psychological point of view gets you this result later on,” Szafnauer lamented, highlighting the consequences of instability and mismanagement.

The sentiment was echoed by former F1 driver Timo Glock, who attributed the team’s current woes to the tumultuous changes and lack of continuity in the development of their new car. “The mess started last year. Many key figures were thrown out, including Otmar. Changing personnel in the development of a new car brings unrest in the team and we are now seeing the consequences,” Glock explained, pointing to the disruptive impact of frequent personnel changes.

Despite the challenges, including a car reported to be significantly overweight, Pierre Gasly remained optimistic, emphasizing the need for a holistic approach to improvements: “It’s not that much,” Gasly said, downplaying the weight issue. “We know we have to find something in many areas. It’s not just one thing, but the whole.”

Team boss Bruno Famin attempted to strike a positive note amid the adversity, asserting Alpine’s commitment to turning the tide: “It’s a general lack of performance. Too little traction. The handling is not good. It’s a little of everything,” Famin admitted, acknowledging the multifaceted nature of their performance deficit.

Ocon offered a surprising perspective on the car’s drivability, suggesting that despite the team’s struggles, the car was not as challenging to drive as one might expect: “You would expect the car to be terrible to drive, but that is not the case.”

As Alpine looks to the future, the challenge of retaining and attracting top driving talent looms large, particularly with Ocon and Gasly’s contracts expiring. Speculation about Mick Schumacher’s potential involvement with the team in Formula 1 was quashed by Famin, citing contractual limitations due to Schumacher’s ties with Mercedes: “We’re not allowed to do that,” Famin clarified. “He is a Mercedes reserve driver and our contract with Mick only covers the sports cars.”

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