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Alpine 2024 Renault Challenge

Alpine’s 2024 Struggle: A Crossroads for Renault

04/03/2024

Amidst a tough start to the 2024 season, Alpine F1 faces critical decisions, with Renault’s commitment and future support under intense scrutiny.

In Bahrain, the harsh reality of Alpine F1’s situation with the 2024 car was made clear.

“There are the top four teams, then Aston Martin, the rest, and then Alpine,” confirms Haas F1’s new team principal, Ayao Komatsu, after the season opener.

“We thought we would be competing with Alpine, but we ended up being quite clearly ahead, both in terms of single-lap speed and race pace.”

Last year, amid the exodus of senior Alpine executives, a quarter of the team was sold by Renault to investors – with the presence of some celebrities and athletes leading the deal. It values the team at about 800 million euros.

However, the outlook for 2024 does not look very good, especially because the Renault engine – which is not used by any customer team, exacerbating costs – is believed to be responsible for a half-second per lap deficit on its own.

In 2023, rumors even circulated within the halls of Enstone: employees wanted to switch to Mercedes engines as a customer!

“Then, I had to explain that without Renault engines, there would be no project, no chassis factory at Enstone,” confirms the team boss, Bruno Famin.

Renault chose not to pursue a development right with the FIA, focusing instead on its 2026 engine.

While waiting for improvements on the engine side, Pierre Gasly explains that Alpine is again facing bigger operational issues than just a pace deficit, such as particularly slow pit stops.

“Unfortunately, we know this is something we have to work on. It cost me 10 seconds,” he said on Saturday after the Bahrain GP. “We know it wouldn’t have brought us points, but in the future, it will be important when we get closer to the points again.”

And this weekend in Saudi Arabia, the performance is also likely to be disastrous.

“We will have no development in Jeddah. But we still have a lot to learn about this new car. There are things to fine-tune. After that, there won’t be a revolution, and we will have to continue working step by step.”

In the Bahrain paddock, it was said that Alpine F1’s disastrous situation could now be the perfect opportunity for Andretti-Cadillac to enter F1, by buying a team and an engine program, thus bypassing the sport’s blessing to become an eleventh team.

Indeed, if Andretti simply waits until 2028, as F1 suggests, a new Concorde Agreement will likely require $600 million or more just to become the eleventh team – in addition to all the infrastructure costs associated with starting from scratch.

It remains to be seen what the stance of Luca de Meo, the CEO of the Renault group, is in the face of this debacle. A sale of Alpine F1 would not serve the brand’s interests, which has built its reputation and sales model on competition. Even if it were to succeed, the WEC program alone would not have the necessary media exposure to support sales.

Alpine 2024 Renault Challenge. Alpine 2024 Renault Challenge

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