Abiteboul’s sudden exit leaves more questions than answers at renamed Alpine.
It is still unknown why Cyril Abiteboul left Renault. Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images.
You wouldn’t usually associate the name Bob Dylan with Formula One, but his famous song “The times they are a-changin” certainly rings true at the pinnacle of motorsport. Even though not all of them are that surprising, I did not expect the rapidity we are witnessing in the case of management within the sport.
Recently the news broke on Cyril Abiteboul’s departure from the Renault team – it was not even the renamed Alpine yet – a move few of us would have predicted. The reason for this sudden decision is unknown.
Abiteboul issued a brief statement: “I would like to thank the Groupe Renault for having trusted me for many years, particularly with the relaunch and reconstruction of the team since 2016. The solid foundations of the racing team and the entities in France and England built over these years, the strategic evolution of the sport towards a more economically sustainable model and more recently the Alpine project, which provides a renewed sense of meaning and dynamism, all point to a fine trajectory.
“I would like to thank [Renault chief executive] Luca de Meo for involving me in the construction of the Alpine business unit and I wish the new structure every success.”
It is rather a curt finale to a long career for the Frenchman, who recently demonstrated that the team was on the right track. It went from being an average team and an engine supplier whose product lacked both performance and reliability, to finishing fifth in the 2020 constructors’ championship with their own car and taking the Renault-powered McLaren to third in the same title chase.
Just a few weeks ago Abiteboul announced how satisfied he was with the 2021 driver line-up, Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon, plus the move to Alpine F1. Everything in Renault’s garden was looking very rosy. So what happened Perhaps we will never know. But it is certainly not the end of the Renault/Alpine saga. Now the question is, who will be running the team?
The position of chief executive of Alpine, which includes Alpine cars, F1, sport and all competitive activities, has been settled with the appointment of Laurent Rossi, who was director of strategy and business development for Groupe Renault.
Team principal is expected to be Marcin Budkowski, currently the F1 team’s executive director at the Enstone plant in Oxfordshire. He would report directly to Rossi, who in turn will report to De Meo. Then there is the appointment of Davide Brivio, who has spent 20 years involved in motorsport and the last eight as manager of a Japanese team.
If you follow MotoGP you will be familiar with Brivio as the dynamic man behind Team Suzuki Ecstar. He left there on a high, with Joan Mir taking the 2020 riders’ title and Suzuki Ecstar winning the team championship. Quite what his role is to be will only be officially “announced in the coming weeks”, according to an Alpine F1 statement.
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