Fry says Alpine ‘lack of enthusiasm’ prompted exit

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Former Alpine CTO Pat Fry says the French outfit's lack of enthusiasm and drive to push forward prompted his departure from Enstone and his subsequent move to Williams.

Fry had joined the Renault outfit from McLaren at the start of the 2020 season and was handed the role of Chief Technical Officer two years later ahead of the team’s 2022 campaign.

Alpine’s progress was significant during Fry’s tenure, the Enstone squad concluding 2022 fourth in F1’s Constructors’ Championship.

However, despite the outwardly ambitious declarations from the team's leadership, spearheaded by then Alpine boss Laurent Rossi, Fry sensed an internal lack of drive and motivation to propel the team to greater heights.

“I look back at the first three years I was there, and we improved Enstone, dramatically,” Fry said in Abu Dhabi. “Year-on-year, we built a better car.

“If you put the three cars next to each other, each one was a massive step. It’s a credit for everyone there, the various teams were collaborating a huge amount better.

“I think everyone there should be proud of what we achieved for those three years.

“I guess I’d gone back there to go back to the place you started your career and try and rebuild it. And I think we did really well. From a distant fifth, we were a solid fourth.

“But I didn’t feel there was the enthusiasm or the drive to move forward beyond fourth,” he added.

“I decided at the start of March that I want to be pushing things forward, I don’t just want to sit there and not be able to do things. So for me, that was time to stop and move on, really.

“It’s one of those things, I think as a company, they weren’t almost set up to push hard enough, you can say you want to be first.

“But the difference between saying it and achieving it, is monumental, as we all know.”

A bone of contention between Alpine’s management and team boss Otmar Szafnauer, which to the latter’s ousting after the Belgian GP at Spa last summer, was the timeline of success.

Alpine’s team principal felt that the French outfit was a work in progress that required a process and patience while Renault’s senior management expected a swift path to success.

Fry reckons that Szafnauer – who had joined Alpine at the start of 2022 – should have been given more time to build up the team’s potential.

“Enstone as such, the destiny that we were in charge of, we could control,” Fry said. “And I think we did a good job.

“I’m not so sure that Otmar got a fair chance at fixing the place, because to some degree I think metaphorically, your hands are tied, I guess.

“But as I say, I think everyone there should be proud of what we achieved in those first three years.

“It’s always a shame walking away from things. But I think for me, I’d taken them as far as I could. And it was time for me to put my feet up and sit in my garden.”

It was announced just ahead of Alpine’s infamous Belgian GP weekend that Fry would move to Williams to fulfil the role of CTO.

But the 59-year-old former Benetton, McLaren and Ferrari engineer said that it required a fair amount of persuasion on the part of Williams team boss James Vowles to convince him to move to Grove. So, what enticed him to join the team?

“James had been talking to me for a little while, and it wasn’t until another couple of months after that that I decided to come here,” he revealed.

“I guess the thing that excites me about this opportunity is the board is fully on board with what it’s going to take to move this place forward,” he added.

“They’re willing to invest what it takes and support us in building a team.

“And again, it’s a nice thing isn’t it, to rebuild an old British icon. It’s a bit like my romantic view of going back to Benetton, to rebuild them. So it’s another exciting prospect.”

“James is pushing hard to try and improve this place. As I said the board is fully behind him moving the pace forward, and that’s the thing that excites me, we’re not going to be limited in what we can achieve.”

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