Change had been expected at Alpine but it was thought that Cyril Abiteboul’s role with the firm was safe – but it seems that was not true as Renault has just announced that Laurent Rossi has been appointed Chief Executive Officer of the Alpine brand, effective today. He will be in charge of Alpine Cars, Sport, F1 and competition activities, and will report to the company Chief Executive Officer Luca de Meo.
Abiteboul is leaving the company after 20 years. It remains to be seen whether he is moving to a new role in Formula 1…
Rossi began his career with Renault in 2000 as a development engineer, after completing a Masters in mechanical engineering. In 2009 he left the firm after finishing an MBA course at Harvard and joined the Boston Consulting Group in New York, as the firm’s automotive industry expert. In 2012 he moved to Google to develop commercial relations with automotive industry companies, firstly in Paris for the Europe region, then in New York for the Americas region and then globally. He returned to Renault in 2018 and was named Vice-President of Corporate Strategy and Business Development in 2019. He is a member of Groupe Renault Management Committee.
It has yet to be announced what roles will be taken by others but it is expected that MotoGP team boss Davide Brivio will join the team, working alongside Marcin Budkowski.
“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,” Abiteboul said. “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 very fine trajectory. I would like to thank Luca de Meo for involving me in the construction of the Alpine Business Unit and I wish the new structure every success.”
De Meo said that Abiteboul’s work had been “remarkable”.
“I would like to warmly thank Cyril for his tireless involvement, which notably led the Renault F1 Team from the penultimate place in 2016 to the podiums last season,” he said. “His remarkable work in F1 since 2007 allows us to look to the future, with a strong team and the new Alpine F1 Team identity to conquer the podiums this year.”
The announcement clearly indicates that the split is amicable, which suggests that Cyril has not been kicked out but is leaving to go on to something bigger and better. This makes some sense as de Meo gave the impression that Cyril would be involved in the future of Alpine when the plan to switch from Renault to Alpine branding was first announced at Monza.
It may just be a coincidence, but the news comes just a few days after the announcement that the Fiat-Peugeot merger has gone through, to create the new Stellantis company, which boasts no fewer than 14 different brands.
Stellantis is headed by Carlos Tavares, who used to be a big player at Renault. When Abiteboul first took an important role in Renault Sport F1 in 2010, in the wake of the Singapore GP scandal he was seen as someone who had the confidence of Tavares and was elevated to deputy managing-director of the team when Tavares was COO of Renault. Cyril then departed to join Caterham, an arrangement which included the promise of an Alpine sports car, which was going to be a joint venture between Caterham and Renault., This was largely a Tavares project but he departed Renault in the summer of 2013. He subsequently became head of Peugeot and was the architect of the merger with Fiat. Although the Alpine programme went ahead, Caterham dropped out of the project and of Formula 1 and so Abiteboul went back to Renault to become team principal and managing-director of Renault Sport F1.
Stellantis’s current involvement in Formula 1 is through the Alfa Romeo brand, which is the sponsor of Sauber. The team has not been a great success.
It will be interesting to see what Abiteboul will do next…