Prost 'saddened' by Alpine plight, labels Rossi 'inept manager'

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Four-time F1 world champion Alain Prost says he is "saddened and distressed" by the current turmoil seizing the Alpine F1 team, suggesting that former brand CEO Laurent Rossi bears a heavy responsibility in the team's disruption.

In the wake of Alpine's recent upper management changes which saw Rossi replaced as chief executive by Philippe Krief, while Bruno Famin was elevated to the role of VP of Alpine Motorsport, the team announced at Spa on Friday the departures of team principal Otmar Szafnauer, sporting director Alan Permane and CTO Pat Fry.

The latest changes – which many called a veritable implosion - came out of the blue on a Grand Prix weekend, leaving the team exposed to the media, and an unconvincing Famin with few answers to complex questions.

In an interview with French daily L'Equipe, Prost, a former Renault F1 director and advisor sidelined by Rossi, didn't hold back his criticism of Alpine's top brass and how it has managed its F1 team in the past years with an ill-fated corporate approach.

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"I love this team, and I am saddened and distressed to see it in its current state," he said.

"It deserves better and has everything it needs to succeed. I simply believe you need to rely on history to understand what went wrong.

"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, coupled with a winning driver."

Prost pointed to Ferrari and Mercedes' past and current structures in F1, helmed by strong personalities of the sport such as Jean Todt, Niki Lauda and toto Wolff who were entrusted to run their teams by top executives who supported their efforts.

"They knew the codes of F1, and had the necessary nimbleness and flexibility to let their people make the decisions," he said.

"Red Bull's decision not to partner with Porsche actually stems from this refusal to yield to those overly heavy decisions from the board, from people who don't know F1.

"In my years at Renault, 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.

"That was a huge mistake, as was proven with the last of the directors, Laurent Rossi, whom Luca de Meo let go a week ago.

"Laurent Rossi is the best example of the Dunning-Kruger effect, that of an inept manager who thinks he can overcome his incompetence with his arrogance and his lack of humanity towards his people.

"He was Alpine's boss for 18 months and thought he understood everything from the outset, yet that couldn't be further from the truth. His management stopped the momentum the team had built since 2016, achieving these podiums and that win."

In Friday's FIA press conference, Famin ensured that Alpine was in a strong position to attack the second stage of its 100-race plan, to "consolidate its foundation and go further and faster".

But Prost doubts that Alpine is capable in its current state of executing a rapid turnaround.

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

"When you look back at Renault's success, you will find a man – Flavio Briatore – and a legendary driver – Fernando Alonso – supported by a management team [Patrick Faure, Louis Schweitzer] who, at the time, implemented this philosophy of quick decision-making by specialists.

"It is amusing to see that F1 directors are often invited to conferences on management by major companies to speak about reactivity and flexibility. It rarely is the other way round…[company managers being invited to speak about F1]."

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