A big shake-up at Alpine

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…

31 thoughts on “A big shake-up at Alpine

    1. This was my thinking, although more along the lines of a technical partnership once RB acquire Honda’s PU. However, there could be some personality issues which meant Cyril had to move on.

      I know it sounds all cordial, but most press releases of this nature are….

      All speculation and conjecture on my part….

  1. Another team that will find itself on the back step after a management change, I fear. Alpine or Renault or whatever you chose to call the team, has been gradually moving forward. Each year a step forward. Not so much progress to be found in the future, I fear.

  2. One you might not feel worthy of an article, but one of the heroes from my youth…. his girlfriend was Francois Hardy and he was a Ferrari F1 driver. Of course he was a hero! OK it was just in Grand Prix (movie). But he died a couple of days ago. Antonio Sabàto Sr.

    1. The sense is that Abiteboul was not pushed… De Meo gave the impression at Monza that Cyril would have a big role at Alpine

      1. hmmm, wonder where he’ll end up then. Must be a pretty big role to have given up Renault. I can’t see why he’d go to Alfa for example.

  3. I am sorry that Cyril Abiteboul will be leaving the Alpine Team as I think that verbal interaction between him & Fernando Alonso in 2021 could have been very bluntly entertaining some times! Garry in Devon, England.

  4. Too many big name driver signings with no great improvement in results? The new boss might not be a fan of Alonso, he might be concerned by the problems he might bring the team and perhaps Alonso isn’t bringing his 6 tenths.
    Danny’s money might have been better spent on improving the car.

  5. Just when the Alpine ducks seemed to be aligned.

    Cyril did not seem to match current mould of successful TP, but i think that he would have been one of very few people who could keep Fernando in check. He is a loose cannon, it’s all about him.

    Wrong move, wrong time

  6. Could he be the person Toto was locking for Joe?
    Or with the fiat connection and tavares could he be heading to maranello as a replacement for binotto?

    1. I cant see a new face being the right answer for Mercedes. The team has always prided itself on strength in depth, what would it say about the upper middle and senior managers if Toto felt the need to bring in new blood from outside…. I Cant see it at all, but then again I’m just a middle aged bloke …..

  7. The media reported paddock chatter gives the impression that most don’t quite like Cyril and are happy for him to leave/dismissed from the F1 role. Why is that Joe ? Is it because he is blunt or that he wasn’t upto the task of being a Team Principal

    1. I like him too – I nearly wet myself laughing when he said to Christian Horner, “so Christian, next year you have no engines and no driver…….” I thought Horner was going to loose it!

      1. It was funny although it has to be said that the £50 million it cost to sign Danny Ric for two seasons and not being able to convince him to stay + the £30 million a year in lost engine revenue was probably not the greatest business move ever !!

  8. Acting as agent provocateur.
    To me it looks like Renault taking one step away from F1, or at least making it easier to withdraw at a later date, when it would not be the Renault name, but a only a little used brand name that disappeared. Of course meanwhile the engine could have been adopted as a joint enterprise with one of the existing independent engine makers. (Especially after the coming simplification in spec)

    I did actually once drive an Alpine, in Southampton docks, the import manager had one unblocked for me. (the springs were compressed and strapped to wooden blocks for sea transport) It must have impressed me as it was easily 34 years ago and I still remember the thumping of the joins, as all the roads in the dock were about 3m concrete slabs with very ample expansion gaps , filled with tar long on the past.

    Will Nissan be able to escape?

    1. I agree that the whole Alpine strategy looks rather flakey in a tail wagging dog sort of way

      Renault is a mass-market brand and so needs to get its name out there However that did not work for Honda, but niche branding does for Ferrari and AMG.

      I suppose it comes down to – how do ICE manufacturers survive 2030.

    1. I was wondering if he did get the tattoo, and Renault/Alpine wasn’t pleased with it, leading to his departure

  9. Cyril was already moving to do something with the alpine road car so he was out of the F1 team anyway
    since last season. All common knowledge.
    He probably realized it was a boring step away from racing and looked elsewhere for a challenge.
    Why do people persist with this Alonso butting heads with him narrative?
    Alonso’s at ferrari was a marvel to watch as he drove them forward to within a few points of red bull by the end of the season when nobody gave them a chance of making up the gap.
    Interesting that whenever someone in an actual team says he was great to work with some member of
    the public seems to know better.
    If alonso is outspoken and controvertial than explain Red bull and max’s constant attacks on renault
    which resulted in the parting of the ways. And they were a lot better than hondas feeble efforts at mclaren.

  10. Abiteboul didn’t do a great job as an engine supplier, loosing the Red Bull deal in such a high profile way and not renewing with McLaren. In the corporate world, and being evaluated from the outside, this means that Renault’s F1 program will cost more to run and, also looking from the outside, even tough there’s been progress, Renault is a midfield team. Wasting a ton of money on Ricciardo, who was seen as their guy for the long term, and then loosing him to McLaren, having to sign another big name with big money may also not be seen as a great management move.
    CEOs need to respond to shareholders and market analysts in the short term and a team taking years to get back to the top while spending tons of money in the process doesn’t actually match the short term mentality that comes with the job.
    In my opinion, the big mistake is removing the Renault name from the door and rocking the management boat now that they seem to have a decent base and the arrival of Alonso. The team should be left alone to work the next couple of years.

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