Fernando Alonso, Alpine, Bahrain International Circuit, 2021

Lack of customer team makes it “more difficult” to place Alpine junior drivers in F1 – Brivio

2021 F1 season

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Alpine’s racing director Davide Brivio has admitted it will be hard to promote its junior drivers into F1 as long as it doesn’t have any customer teams.

The team has continued the junior driver programme which began in its previous guise as Renault. Its roster include Formula 2 drivers Guanyu Zhou, Christian Lundgaard and Oascar Piastri, and Formula 3 duo Caio Collet and Victor Martins.

Alpine’s rivals have junior drivers placed with customer or ‘partner’ teams in F1. Ferrari’s Antonio Giovinazzi and Mick Schumacher drive for Alfa Romeo and Haas respectively, Mercedes’ George Russell races for Williams and Red Bull have their own second team, AlphaTauri.

“It’s quite obvious, the fact that we don’t have a partner team makes things a little bit more difficult because the young drivers [would have to] be included in our Alpine main team,” Brivio admitted.

Brivio has joined Alpine from Suzuki’s Moto GP squad, where he was credited with promoting new riders. He sees similarities between that experience and F1 today.

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“In my previous experience I could appreciate when you have young athletes, rider or driver, they are of course strongly motivated, they really want to achieve and they are really willing to. But it has to be always a good mix between experience and talent and also it depends on the situation.

Drivers, Circuit de Catalunya, 2020
2021 F1 drivers and teams
“I think what we have done in Moto GP was also in a special, historical moment when we realised a few years ago that there was going to be a change of generation between the riders. The top riders were getting old and probably getting retired so [we] needed to create a new generation of riders at that stage.”

However Brivio said he doesn’t believe in promoting new talent “just because it’s nice to have young” drivers.

“Here in Formula 1 there is, of course, a new generation coming up. And you can see, you can appreciate how these young drivers are performing since the beginning. But also we have Fernando [Alonso], he’s not that young, but he’s experienced and his talent [is] still very important.”

“But for sure we have the academy programme, we look at that and if there are opportunities, it would be nice to use it,” he added.

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 19 comments on “Lack of customer team makes it “more difficult” to place Alpine junior drivers in F1 – Brivio”

    1. Good engine could help.

      1. @jureo

        And good parts you can share with a partner team – gearbox, suspension… and brake ducts and chassis as we’ve seen with Racing point.

        Honestly, Renault is the weakest of the contructors. If they had the performance of a Ferrari and Mercedes, not just in the engine department, but on the car as a whole.. they could have easily snatched up either Williams or Haas as a customer.

        1. It’s probably as much about what Renault want in return for their engines and gearboxes (ie. complete data, among other information and control) as much as anything else that determines who wants to be a customer.
          How did Ferrari engines do last year, anyway? And how was Renault’s? Even Merc’s engines finished last in the WCC.

      2. Well Abiteboul certainly didn’t help, chasing everyone away..

    2. I understand the point he is making but nothing has actually changed in reality with the loss of customer teams.

      All of the other teams that have recently used Renault engines would never have entered into a driver placement arrangement anyway. Renault wouldn’t have been able to insist on these terms with Red Bull, Toro Rosso or McLaren without them laughing in their face.

      1. Spot on! Same goes for Aston Martin nowadays, so the only teams that would be open for a junior are Williams (rumour was that Renault was in talks with them at the beginning of the year, but at the same time it was announced that Williams would have a tighter relationship with Mercedes for more ‘hardware’ parts), Haas (tight to Ferrari) and Alfa Romeo / Sauber. I would try to persuade AR/Sauber to become a customer/junior team if I was Renault.

    3. I know people criticise Renault for signing Alonso and not promoting their junior drivers, but in truth, none of their junior drivers were good enough for F1. Oscar Piastri might be a genuine talent who I have hopes for, but we’ll have to see how he fares in F2 first. But none of Aitken, Zhou or Lundgaard have impressive sufficiently for them to warrant a seat in F1. Compare this to a team like McLaren, known for putting their faith in youth, who had Magnussen, Vandoorne and Norris, all of whom had stellar junior records

    4. Lack of stellar junior drivers make it “more difficult” to place Alpine junior drivers in F1 – Brivio

    5. This seems to contradict Abiteboul’s narrative in which he was insisting there are no downsides at all in not having any customer teams.
      I wonder if Brivio or Renault are regretting that they don’t have customer teams anymore, and if this is an underlying reason for Abitebouls departure.
      Or is that too far-fetched?

      1. Customer teams means more data, which is essential if you want to be competitive. You cant allow yourself to have an Abiteboul run the show. His behavior is unacceptable since he doesnt realise it is not about him, but about a huge global company. And then you yourself really dont matter, you have to play your part. He didnt and alienated partners. I was surprised he lasted this long and hopefully the reasoning behind it is not because the other execs are the same

    6. Not like suzuki’s young riders were particularly good. Most of the grid reckons the suzuki is the best bike. Suzuki should have fought for the last 3 championships. At least they won the absent Marquez championship.

      1. @peartree It seems like none of the riders are particularly good with the exception of Marquez. He is so far ahead of everyone else in that sport it’s honestly a joke. I reckon if he had returned halfway through the year in 2020, he would have still had a shot at the title. Joan Mir won the title scoring an average of 12.2 points per race. Marquez in 2019 managed 22.1. That says it all.

        1. @mashiat

          Joan Mir won the title scoring an average of 12.2 points per race

          that’s a great stat winning a championship finishing 4th every race.

          1. @peartree 4th place in MotoGP awards you 13 points, so the average positioning would be even worse than 4th. The fact that out of 14 races, he won 1, had 3 retirements, and another further 4 non-podium finishes, really beggars belief as to how he managed to win the title doing so little. MotoGP seems to be filled with a bunch of inconsistent riders who can only show speed in flashes now, it seems as if the sort of golden generations we saw a few years ago, firstly with Rossi, Stoner, Lorenzo, and Pedrosa, then with Rossi, Lorenzo, and Marquez are well and truly in the past due to retirement/decline. At least those guys could often put pressure on Marquez over a season, I wouldn’t trust any of the current crop to ever get near him.

    7. There are at least five ways to get one/more customer team(s):
      – make sure you’re PU is the best (like Mercedes);
      – provide the PU for free (like Honda);
      – offer an economically attractive total solution (like Ferrari);
      – buy a sister team (like RBR);
      – or befriend a rich parent with a son/daughter with limited skills (like Haas, AMR).

      1. There’s also lobbying for new teams.

    8. Great pic that. One of my bugbears on F1 is the lack of good photography. A still doesnt often afford a good view of speed but it can do and the pan shots are tired and dull now. A car on the edge or over it and a tyre being stretched is very nice to see. Thats not quick corner but it nicely encapsulates this eras monsters, love em or loathe them

    9. Indeed, if you want to be a top team then you need to work together with a B team. Which will be a lot easier if the team itself actually performs like a top team.

    10. Using a 40 year old veteran and a former Mercedes junior to do the racing in F1, makes it hard for your own junior drivers to race in F1.

    Comments are closed.