Bruno Famin, Alpine, Jeddah Corniche Circuit, 2024

“Shock” of poor start to season showed need for change at Alpine – Famin

Formula 1

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Alpine team principal Bruno Famin says the team’s uncompetitive start to the year showed changes were needed in their technical division.

He placed three engineers in charge of different aspects of car development after the departures of technical director Matt Harman and head of aerodynamics Dirk de Beer. The pair left following Alpine’s poor showing in the first race of the new season, where their A524s qualified on the back row of the grid.

Although Famin expected the team would need time to get the best from its new design, the extent of their troubles surprised him. “It was a shock because we were really expecting a difficult start of the season, we knew this, this is what we said during the launch of our car. But to be on the last row in the quali was a shock, to be honest.

“It just confirmed the need of changing in our team and we made the change.”

Esteban Ocon, Alpine, Bahrain International Circuit, 2024
Alpine have started the season off the pace
Development at Alpine is now headed by technical director for engineering Joe Burnell, technical director for aerodynamics David Wheater and technical director for performance Ciaron Pilbeam. The trio report to Famin, who said the new structure was a continuation of the changes made last year within their race operation.

“We really want to bring to the factories what we have done on the track-side by the end of the last season. I mean changing the mindset, unleashing the creativity.

“Having three technical directors makes the organisation much more horizontal, much less vertical. More activity, more agility. The motto is really to develop our people. We have very talented people and we want them to bring as much as they can to the project, to the team, to the company.”

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He remains convinced “there is potential in this car” despite their difficult start to the season. “We have something coming for sure, but we also need to change our way of developing the car and maybe racing the car as well.”

Matt Harman, Alpine A524 launch, 2024
Feature: Alpine explain key changes in “very aggressive” new A524
“The car is totally new,” he added. “We have developments coming. We will work hard in developing the car.

“But of course, understanding what are the problems is key to solve it. And we have a quite clear idea of what are the problems and we are really working hard.”

Drivers Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly had been consistent in their feedback about the A524’s main weakness, he added.

“One of the biggest complaints of the driver, it’s not a secret because we can hear it on the radio, is the lack of traction. That’s why in Bahrain, where we really need very good traction with the slow corners, it was especially difficult.”

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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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33 comments on ““Shock” of poor start to season showed need for change at Alpine – Famin”

  1. The firing squad continues. Not sure if Famin is the man for the job either.

    1. They somehow seem to be unable to learn and end up in their own traps again and again and again and again. I have zero confidence in them bouncing back.

  2. The fact they are doing worse now than last year says more.

    Maybe the ones sacked were the right people for the job…

    1. This car was done by last year guys.

      1. You sure about that? The guys who were fired or resigned over the last two seasons were some of the most well known designers in F1 with multiple championship winning chassis under their belt. While it doesn’t mean they’re not good, Pilbeam is the only one whose name I’ve ever heard mentioned before.

        When you consider Renault’s investment level and how well the car was going in Ricciardo’s last season + during Alonso’s time, it seems more like they were at the limit of the team’s resources than a fundamental problem with the staff. Then Rossi came along and the mix of his Big Tech ego and the corporate side (which begins meddling anytime they hit a bump) and they began destroying everything. This included treated the Piastri/Alonso fiasco as if the team had a fundamental problem rather than it being a purely legal department / Rossi issue.

        Things are going to be immensely embarrassing for seasons to come. I expect them to sell out completely before 2026.

    2. nah, its just how toxic management works, they fire people and expect things to get better, they only care about results, and process is a word that goes undefined.

    3. I’d bet Alsonso and Piastri are happy they made their moves!

  3. It’s not often a team goes from bad to worse to terrible, but here we are.

    Not sure where the light at the end of the tunnel is supposed to be, but it feels like it’s years from now. They fired everyone that could fix things, and haven’t hired any replacements yet. So that’s this year’s development down the drain, as well as any potential development for next year until at best several months from now. So that’s next year gone too. 2026 then? Maybe? Realistically a whole new team and a whole new reorganization is probably not going to yield results that quickly, so 2027 perhaps?

    And that’s along with hoping the 2026 engine will finally be on par with the rest of the grid, but that would be the first time in over a decade, so that’s a gamble and a half in and of itself.

    Just yikes. Really.

    1. You’ve forgotten, Williams in the late 2010s. 2017 > 5th to 2018 > last and 2019 last by a long long way

      1. I never said that it never happened before, though.

    2. It’s interesting to remember renault didn’t bring a title contending car since 2006, so it’s very realistic they’re gonna celebrate their 20 years anniversary of uncompetitiveness!

      1. Not a good example or metric. They did better than most teams during large parts of that time. Only two teams have won titles since 2010 (2009 really in most ways). That’s 15 years! So, you could say the same about every other single team on the grid and Merc isn’t looking too hot either.

  4. I am yet to know which team will explode first: Alpine, Red Bull or RB?

    1. I feel like Alpine already exploded. They couldn’t really be doing any worse.

      1. There should be a rule that dictates they must sell to a new party wanting to enter the sport.

    2. Red bull being so competitive is probably gonna make people think twice before leaving.

    3. As long as Newey stays, nothing else going on at RBR matters. Max, Horner, Helmut, etc. are all expendable. I’m sure even Max knows this. He can threaten, but if he actually jumps ship I’ll laugh myself silly.

  5. We need a 100 race plan…no, change the team name…no, sack everyone…oh sod it, just flog the team to Andretti and leave quietly via the back door

  6. Or maybe the start to the season is a direct result of constantly chopping and changing year after year. Whatever the reason it sure is funny watching an engine manufacturer chase its tail and hurl itself to the rear of the grid as it makes wrong turn after wrong turn.

  7. JR Love (@dermechaniker)
    14th March 2024, 18:15

    I really don’t understand something about this Alpine car.

    Why is it overweight?

    I know I am not an F1 engineer/designer, but of all the things that don’t need to be “correlated” like CFD modeling, wind tunnel and on-track data, the weight of the car will be known prior to a single part being manufactured.

    Given the known, and unalterable, less-horsepower-than-their-rivals, surely the car’s weight should be paramount in their design ethos. Everyone knows less kg = lap time.

    If they can’t even get that right, then what hope do they have with far more complex design problems?

    1. What I’ve read or maybe heard (can’t remember where it was) is that they had to reinforce a new and quite different monocoque at the last minute, because – unlike what their simulations showed – it failed the homologation crash test. I’m not sure if that’s the main reason – or indeed true – but it seems kind of plausible.

      1. That is indeed the reason.

    2. they also have a very inferior power unit. So who knows, maybe they need a lot more cross sectional area for heat dissipation.

  8. Let’s face it, they (or the parent company) made a decision years ago that they could thrive off the success of the team they were supplying with PU’s.

    That went pear shaped when the new hybrids were introduced and they showed zero care factor that theirs was by far the worst. So much so that their golden goose eventually walked away and took a risk, successfully, on Honda.

    Even now it’s the worst, their aero is bad, and they’re trending backwards.

    One wonders how much longer they’ll persist.

    1. Maybe they want to be the haas of the engine manufacturers, just drive around, score some points, get some money and don’t really care about results.

      1. Ferrari could probably benefit from a 3rd team, especially if they can keep up with the other Mercedes powered teams.

  9. It doesn’t matter how horizontal or vertical the organisation is. Just make a faster car.

  10. Alpine is screaming bad management – higher management.

  11. Now I know for sure the criticisms Otmar spoke about to Peter Windsor are all true. Dont expect Alpine to bounce back because they simply don’t know what they’re doing

  12. Besides Pilbeam, some background on the new heads would be really helpful context for this article.

  13. Safnauer should have stayed in the first place.

  14. And soon, Andretti enters and alpin closes the book with a healthy sum.
    Everyone happy.

  15. If Famin thinks the solution to the problem is to get rid of a collective treasure trove of F1 & Grand prix experience, it’s no wonder the team is sliding to the back as fast as they are.

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