Alpine: the purge in Fernando Alonso’s team and the fury of Alain Prost
Fernando Alonso He has been trying for some time to attract all the media attention through an encrypted message that after his return to Formula 1 has not finished generating the intended results. “The plan”. The Asturian refers to him as the one who anticipates the transcendental maneuver that will cause a turning point in his career, which will return him to stardom. In his case, that would mean being in a position to fight for the title, something he has not achieved for a decade (2012), when he ran in the Ferrari suit. The 2021 World Cup is over and no one knows very well what the plan is yet. However, that noun could perfectly define the internal shock that in the last ten days has led to the departure of Alpine of two fundamental elements of the team in recent years.
Last week, the team that operates under the Renault umbrella announced the departure of Marcin Budkowski, who until then held the position of executive director. This Monday morning, Autosport advanced the dismissal of Alain Prost, four-time world champion (1985, 1986, 1989 and 1993) and who had been linked to the diamond brand in one way or another since he debuted in Formula Renault, there by 1975. In 2019 he signed on as non-executive director of the group’s racing division. Within a few hours it was his own Teacher who took this information for good, and not only that, but also criticized how the news of his departure had reached him.
Prost: “I have been disrespected”
“I am very disappointed in the way the news has been communicated. We had agreed that the team and I would do it together. They have disrespected me!” Prost lamented on his social media profiles. ¨In Abu Dhabi -the last round of the last championship- I rejected the offer they made me, for personal reasons¨, the former pilot wanted to make clear.
Alpine is going through a restructuring process that confirms the obvious: no matter how optimistic and good faces they put on, things did not go as expected in 2021, especially after the bet that Alonso’s return meant. The formation finished in fifth place in the statistics reserved for teams, the same position it occupied the previous year, but with 26 points less. The victory achieved by Esteban Ocon in that crazy Hungarian Grand Prix, and the third place of the Spaniard in Qatar -the only two podiums-, logically made the Enstone (Great Britain) crew happy, but they did not change the sign of a disappointing course . The man from Oviedo finished tenth, with 81 points in his locker, seven more than his neighbor from the workshop, who was eleventh.
Less than a month and a half before the first pre-season training sessions start in Montmeló (from February 23 to 25), more decisive than ever before the avalanche of changes that will be applied in the 2022 technical regulations, the departures of Budkowski and Prost are not a good sign. “What is clear is that we cannot continue like this,” an internal Alpine source told EL PAÍS.
The Prost hole does not seem to be occupied by anyone, while Otmar Szafnauer has all the numbers to occupy Budkowski’s chair, having broken up with Aston Martin. In turn, the continuity of Davide Brivio, the racing director, who landed a year ago after being a key piece for Suzuki to regain the crown in MotoGP, at the hands of Joan Mir, is not assured, 20 two decades after the last time, with Kenny Roberts Junior.
When he announced that he was returning to F1 after two years experimenting in other disciplines, Alonso made it clear that the objective was to shoot in 2021 to attack with all of 2022, when he will have already turned 41. The revolution in the regulations, combined with the reduction of the budget limit, which will be 125 million euros per team, should open the possibility for others to interfere in the duel between Mercedes and Red Bull. However, so much movement in such a short time for the cars to start rolling is not the best of omens for Alpine.