Alpine's avalanche: Last one to leave turns off the lights

The fallout from the falling-out

Events have left Famin in charge of picking up the baton. Thrown into the cauldron with little time to prepare, bombarded with questions, the Frenchman struggled last Friday to deliver pre-prepared answers, and talked up the sports car side of things while admitting that he didn't yet know what the next step would be for the F1 team, or how he was going to pick up Permane's detailed work with the F1 Commission on the engine power equalisation clause.

It came to mind that Famin's time and expertise would perhaps be better employed addressing the weakness of Renault's power unit, rather than absorbed by the million and one tasks of running the team as a whole.

Famin looks an unlikely long-term team leader. There is talk of former Ferrari principal Mattia Binotto being drafted in, but he will be all too keenly aware of the experience of the hostile environment previously encountered by Vasseur, the man who went on to become his own successor at Maranello.

In the interim, Famin will press on with the team's "plan", the specifics of which appear as vague as a shadow.

"The goal is really to push the development of the brand. To do that, one of the things we need to do is to push the development of the Formula 1 team," said the Frenchman.

Slicing and dicing the outfit's top management seems like an impractical approach to speeding things up. Famin also appears as a man at odds with stability.

"Stability can also be a way of always having the same results in the same way and not progressing," he contended. "We should have been much closer to the top teams this season, and for sure, things should have been different.

"But in terms of stability, we need to build things. Now we need to make some changes to move forward, to go faster, and to change this stability, which is quite counterproductive at this stage."

Rd 13, Belgian Grand Prix, Sunday 30th July 2023. Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium

At the heart of the problem is a corporate board whose executives fail to understand motorsport's fundamental culture, and consequently see the whole operation as a time-and money-sucking problem child whose only real purpose as far as they're concerned is as a marketing billboard for its other businesses.

As Alain Prost explained: "How many times did I hear in the hallways of the headquarters in Boulogne-Billancourt that F1 was a simple sport that could be managed from home by the men in place?

"Let's hope the decision that was made on Friday, with other people being replaced, will be a salutary shock to the team," Prost continued.

"If you look at the great success stories from the last 30 years, you will see a simple structure – unlike an industrial organisation chart – built around three or four strong personalities [like Lauda, Todt, Briatore, Wolff], coupled with a winning driver [like Schumacher, Alonso, Hamilton, Verstappen] who knew the codes of F1, and had the necessary nimbleness and flexibility to let their people make the decisions."

No wonder that Prost added that he was "saddened and distressed" to see the French team he loved in its current state.