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Formula 1

Second big Alpine change in 10 days as contentious Rossi exits

by Scott Mitchell-Malm
3 min read

Laurent Rossi has been replaced as Alpine CEO and will move onto “special projects” in the second major change in 10 days that impacts its Formula 1 team.

Rossi was put in charge of Renault’s Alpine brand in 2021 but is now succeeded by Philippe Krief, who was only appointed Alpine’s vice president of engineering and product performance in February this year.

This announcement comes 10 days after Alpine restructured its organisation by promoting Bruno Famin to the newly created position of vice president of Alpine motorsports.

That effectively put more distance between the car company and the racing division, including the F1 team.

Alpine F1 team boss Otmar Szafnauer reports to Famin, who remains the head of the engine division, instead of the CEO.

Given Rossi’s approach in the role, the restructure looked like a move that would allow the Enstone and Viry departments to operate with less interference from the corporate level, as Famin would presumably act as a ‘shield’ to let the F1 operation focus more.

The F1 team has been through significant changes in Rossi’s tenure, and not all for the good.

Rossi’s time in charge has encompassed the exits of Marcin Budkowski and Alain Prost, the appointment of Otmar Szafnauer as team principal, and the loss of Fernando Alonso and Oscar Piastri as drivers.

Rossi initially seemed like a necessary counterpoint to the Renault works team’s stagnation. He spent most of 2021 identifying areas to improve and spoke plainly about what he perceived as its limitations.

He did ultimately oversee a better 2022 season, in which Alpine regained fourth in the constructors’ championship, but as his role also included building the Alpine brand there was a growing sense that the F1 team was part of a marketing exercise rather than a focused, elite sporting entity.

When the team had a disappointing start to the season, Rossi was outspoken in his criticism and threatened to make changes before 2023 ended if he did not see a turnaround – then partially took credit when the team scored a podium at the very next race.

After a promising start it felt like Rossi’s leadership had not evolved in a particularly productive manner for the team.

And having essentially threatened to oust senior figures it is curious that he himself is now moving on – although it is unclear if Rossi is instead himself a victim of decisive action from Renault.

It seems he is at least out of the F1 picture entirely, though, as Renault has only vaguely stated he will now “focus on special projects linked to the transformation of the group”.

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Renault Group CEO Luca de Meo, who appointed Rossi in the first place, said: “I would like to thank Laurent for his unwavering commitment over the last two years at the helm of Alpine.

“Laurent has set out a clear and ambitious strategy for the brand.

“He has put Alpine in the best possible position to achieve its long-term goals.”

In his place comes Krief, a vastly experienced executive with an engineering background that includes Michelin, the Fiat Group, Ferrari, Maserati and Alfa Romeo.

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He was director of engineering at Ferrari before joining Alpine and will now be tasked with overseeing a brand still trying to establish itself beyond its niche roots.

Whether that means taking a more active role in the F1 team, which is a cornerstone of the Alpine plan, remains to be seen based on the structure only implemented a week and a half ago.

If he does then it will need to be less confrontational than the relationship his predecessor had by the end.

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