Famin: Alpine management shake-up has 'untapped potential'

Bruno Famin (FRA) Alpine Motorsports Vice President on the grid. 27.08.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 14, Dutch Grand Prix, Zandvoort, Netherlands, Race Day. - www.xpbimages.com, EMail: requests@xpbimages.com © Copyright: Charniaux / XPB Images
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Alpine F1 interim principal Bruno Famin says that the stormy changes to the team's management structure last summer has had the effect of freeing up some potential at Enstone, allowing staff to feel more able to contribute.

The squad saw the sudden departures of former team principal Otmar Szafnauer and sporting director Alan Permane over the Belgium Grand Prix race weekend just prior to the start of the summer shutdown.

Chief technical officer Pat Fry also left the team at the same time to join Williams, while ex-CEO Laurent Rossi had already moved to another role within the Renault group a few weeks earlier.

That left Famin taking the reigns on an 'interim' basis, although there is no sign of anyone else being brought in to take the role - meaning that Famin might prove to be the long term incumbent after all.

Previously in charge of engine development, Famin's hands-on role at Viry-Chatillon has been in part filled by Alpine's new power unit technical director Eric Meignan, recruited from Ferrari having formerly worked for Mercedes.

“We’re very happy to welcome Eric in Viry and I think he will bring a lot because he’s a long, experienced guy in F1," Fermin said earlier this year. "He has started already and I think he will very quickly be operational.

“We have good technical guys in Viry already but I think to have a full-time, on-site technical director will really help everybody.”

Last year's management ruckus also allowed other members such as team manager Rob Cherry and chief mechanic Jason Milligan to be promoted, which overall Famin believes is a good thing for Alpine as a whole.

Matt Harman continues to lead the technical team while Julian Rouse has been acting as interim sporting director. He will now take over as head of the Alpine Academy following the announced departure this week of Davide Brivio.

"The changes we made mid-season we untapped some potential in the people," Famin said. "People are much freer to propose things, to improve.

(L to R): Bruno Famin (FRA) Alpine Motorsports Vice President with Rory McIlroy (GBR) Professional Golfer and Otro Capital Alpine F1 Team Investor and Jack Doohan (AUS) Alpine F1 Team Reserve Driver. 21.10.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 19, United States Grand Prix, Austin, Texas, USA, Sprint Day. - www.xpbimages.com, EMail: requests@xpbimages.com © Copyright: Moy / XPB Images

"That’s especially true on the track side, where immediately I saw a change in the mindset," he continued. "[Rob and Jason] are doing a very good job in proposing improvements, in making sure that their guys also propose things.

“I think all this potential was a bit capped until the end of July," he added. "It’s true for the garage, it’s true also for the track engineering, it’s true for the strategy, and we are daring things we were not daring before.

"Nobody was daring, I don’t know why, I am not a psychologist; I don’t want to enter into detail on that one," he said, likening the situation to someone turning off the water at the mains when it came to trying new things.

“But what is sure now is that to perform with such a level of competition you need to use the potential of everybody, and you need to align the planets," he insisted.

“I’m very happy with that mindset," he said, while admitting that things were still far from how they wanted them to be. “The truth is that we’re not where we wanted to be, for sure,” Famin told Autosport magazine.

Pierre Gasly (FRA) Alpine F1 Team A523 and Esteban Ocon (FRA) Alpine F1 Team A523. 25.08.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 14, Dutch Grand Prix, Zandvoort, Netherlands, Practice Day. - www.xpbimages.com, EMail: requests@xpbimages.com © Copyright: Bearne / XPB Images

"Of course the car is still not the one we would like," he acknowledged. "We scored more points per race in the second half of the season than in the first one, but we need to keep pushing to develop this momentum.”

Famin understandably wants to avoid laying down any hard objectives at this point, mindful of the way that previous principals' public talk of "five-year" and "100-race" masterplans have ended up costing them their jobs.

Cyril Abiteboul was a high profile casualty at the start of 2021, and Renault CEO Luca de Meo spoke of Szafnauer and Permane not working fast enough to turn around the team's performance in 2022.

“I have no idea of how long it will take and I don’t want to fix a target,” Famin insisted. “The objective for this winter and for next year will be to develop that attitude, that mindset, changing the culture.

"It's not Viry against Enstone, it’s the whole thing altogether," he added. "To continue and to develop the momentum in order to make a better team, a better company and to be able to develop a better car.

"Then the result will come. How long it will take, I have no clue.”

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