“When I got there”: Former F1 boss recalls ridiculous setup at Alpine where team was void of certain pivotal divisions

While much is written about the likes of Red Bull, Mercedes, Ferrari, McLaren and Aston Martin, there is relatively less content churned out on some of the other midfield and lower-positioned teams in F1.

They may never be in the reckoning for a constructors’ championship, but their role in the sport cannot go understated.

Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly. Credit: mirror.co.uk
Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly. Credit: mirror.co.uk

However, a dearth of funds and absence of confidence in utilising their given resources often sees many of these teams work well within the cost cap.

For the top teams in the sport, staying within the cost cap is a challenge essentially every year.

But, the likes of Alpine, for example, work well within the budget and this also perhaps explains why results pan out the way that they do, with the sport never the easiest on the pocket for those running on a tight budget.

Former F1 team boss Otmar Szafnauer has described the predicament he faced at Alpine, when the team was so far below its budget cap that he could effectively make a number of changes to set them up for future success.

Although Alpine has not really made any headlines in the last few years despite a breathtaking run by Esteban Ocon to claim the 2021 Hungarian Grand Prix, Szafnauer believes he implemented the right policies to ensure a good long-term return.

Speaking with peter Windsor on his Youtube channel, Szafnauer spoke about his entry at Alpine in 2022 and just how disjointed the functions were at the Enstone-based team.

“Yes, but that assumes you’re already at the cap,” he told Peter Windsor on his YouTube channel.

“If you’re not, then there’s headroom to hire. Which we had at Alpine because we were not at the cap.

“So, when I got there, we were double-digit millions below the cap, so we had headroom to hire.

“I always had the philosophy of you shouldn’t make change for the sake of change,” he said.

“You need to have a good understanding and make change in areas that you know are going to be better because you’re changing them, and that’s exactly what I did at Alpine.

“So, I took some time, understood the areas that were lacking, and then started making changes. When I got there, there was no separate aero performance group for example.

“But by the time I left, I recruited a new head of that group, separated it from the aerodynamics group, and then started recruiting people underneath. That’s just one example.”

Things are not expected to get any easier for Alpine in 2024 either, but their driver line-up of Pierre gasly and Esteban Ocon is a silver lining for the outfit.

Having spent a season together, they will both hope to kick on from here and produce a more consistent run of results for Alpine.

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