The boss of the Renault-owned Formula One team, Laurent Rossi, has warned that he will make changes before the end of the season if performance does not improve. Alpine finished fourth last year, but they are now in sixth place with French drivers Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly scoring just 14 points from five races. Adding insult to injury, Aston Martin has gone from seventh in 2022 to second in the current season with 102 points, and former Alpine driver Fernando Alonso is revitalised with four third-place finishes. Rossi told F1, “If they fail by giving 500% best and turning this ship around, there will be extenuating circumstances, and it bodes well for the future. If not, it’s the rule of business. There’s going to be consequences. And I won’t wait until the end of the year. The trajectory is not good. We need to fix the mindset of the team ASAP.”
Rossi made it clear that Alpine team principal Otmar Szafnauer, who joined in February 2022 from Aston Martin, was in the hot seat. Rossi said, “He is responsible for the performance of the team. That’s his job. There is no hiding here; the buck stops with Otmar.”
Ocon and Gasly were praised by Rossi, stating that they were “doing their share of the job,” and there is zero risk of Renault walking away. Alpine‘s goal for the season was to defend fourth place and close the gap to Red Bull, Ferrari, and Mercedes. However, Champions Red Bull have already scored more points than Alpine managed in all of last season, and third placed Mercedes and fourth placed Ferrari are also a long way down the road. McLaren, who have former Alpine reserve Oscar Piastri in their line-up after the Australian rejected the French team, are in fifth place.
Rossi explained that the team started the season behind the development targets and that they were lacking performance compared to where they wanted to be to cement P4. He added, “We have made a lot of mistakes, too many mistakes, over the weekend. When you compound that relatively lower performance and lack of operational excellence, you end up in a difficult position.” Ocon had three time penalties in the Bahrain season opener. The pair collided in Australia, and in Azerbaijan, they suffered a catalogue of problems, including Gasly‘s car catching fire in practice, and then crashing in qualifying.
Rossi warned the team that if they fail to get fourth place, “it’s going to be a failure.” He added that “If they don’t, it’s the rule of business, there’s going to be consequences,” and he won’t wait until the end of the year to make changes. He insists that Alpine has what it takes to get fourth place, and he wants them to succeed. In conclusion, Rossi said, “We need to fix the mindset of the team ASAP.”