Ryan Reynolds’ Alpine F1 team is running out of time to end the performance slump in 2024

The Ryan Reynolds-backed Alpine squad has found itself in a difficult situation at the start of the 2024 F1 season. A major shake-up has already taken place at Enstone.


Ryan Reynolds’ Alpine F1 team is running out of time to end the performance slump in 2024

Esteban Ocon driving the Alpine A524 in Bahrain, Ryan Reynolds (images via IMAGO)

The Alpine F1 team is one of the four works outfits on the grid. The Enstone-based team was reacquired by Renault before the start of the 2016 from Lotus. Since then, the French team has had high ambitions of making it to the front of the pecking order. However, Alpine has continued to deliver way below expectations including its dismal start to the 2024 season.

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The Alpine A524 shocked fans during its launch. The sheer lack of paint and excessive exposed carbon fiber indicated that the car was overweight. Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly locked out the last row in the Bahrain GP Qualifying. With the two struggling in the tail-end of the field during the race.

The Saudi Arabian GP did not fare better for the French squad. Both Ocon and Gasly failed to make it out of Q1. Pierre Gasly was forced to retire from the race after just one lap due to a gearbox issue. While, Esteban Ocon failed to score points. This has rung alarm bells back at Enstone with a major technical overhaul at the team. However, Alpine might be running out of time.

What caused Alpine’s performance slump?

Alpine adopted an aggressive approach with its sidepods for the 2024 season. The Enstone-based team were confident of the new design on the A524. However, the car failed to pass the FIA homologation tests for the side impact structure. This created a massive issue for the Renault works team over the winter as it needed to reinforce the entire structure.

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Alpine drivers Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon.
Alpine drivers Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon (via IMAGO)

The new design came at the cost of weight. The reinforced structures added extra weight to the car which was not accounted for during the development. Subsequently, the A524 is reported to weigh significantly higher than the minimum weight limit. This could cost Alpine a couple of tenths of a second per lap to its rivals.

Alpine Technical Director Matt Hermann and Aerodynamics Head Dirk de Beer decided to resign from the team amidst the recent struggles. Even Legendary designer Bob Bell left Enstone to join Aston Martin. Although these departures are reported to be done by the individuals themselves rather than a decision of the team.

Alpine has failed to achieve its target of becoming a title contender

When Renault took control of Team Enstone in 2016, it set a five-year timeframe to get competitive. The French team made progress in 2017 after signing Nico Hulkenberg with Carlos Sainz joining in the latter half of the year. However, the Renault works team failed to make enough progress to get past the F1 midfield.

Alan Permane and Otmar Szafnauer
Alan Permane and Otmar Szafnauer (Credits: F1)

Even after signing Daniel Ricciardo in 2019, the French outfit could not challenge the likes of Red Bull and Ferrari. Moreover, the Australian driver decided to leave Enstone in favor of McLaren for 2021. This move highlighted that the then-Cyril Abiteboul-led squad could not convince the 34-year-old.

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Alpine has continued to plateau or fall in performance in recent years. The French team only has a single victory to its name, courtesy of Esteban Ocon at the 2021 Hungarian GP. However, the vision of the upper management has failed to translate into real results. The original five-year deadline was changed to a 100-race timeframe under the leadership of Otmar Szafnauer. However, the team has continued to fall behind its goals.

Alpine’s VP of Motorsport and Team Principal Bruno Famin has tried to save face amidst the recent results. The Frenchman has insisted that the team will keep pushing to improve its position in the coming races. If the team does not improve, it could force Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly to evaluate their options for the future.

Alpine’s lack of real vision for the long term

Otmar Szafnauer was brought in by Alpine in 2022. However, the ex-Force India boss was sacked midway through 2023. Szafnauer had stated that the upper management gave him an unrealistic timeframe for success which was simply not possible. It seems that the Romanian-American was not wrong about his predictions at that time.

Bruno Famin
Bruno Famin (image via IMAGO)

Team Principal Bruno Famin had high ambitions at the end of last season. Famin insisted that the French team could become a front runner within the 100-race timeframe. However, it seems that the Alpine team boss was shocked by his team’s performance at the start of this year.

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The vision of the upper management at Alpine has failed to understand the reality at Enstone since its days as Renault. Even when the team had the likes of Cyril Abiteboul or Laurent Rossi, the French team was given ambitious deadlines which were not as easy to achieve. When things went wrong, the team adopted a simple approach of sacking a top official.

Could someone like Andretti buy Alpine?

Alpine F1 team saw an influx of major investment last in 2023. An investment group including Hollywood star Ryan Reynolds and NFL star Travis Kelce acquired a 24% stake in for over $200 million in Team Enstone. Many saw this news as a way of Renault to develop the team without needing to put in its own funds. However, some have speculated about the possibility of a sale of Alpine.

Michael Andretti
Michael Andretti (via IMAGO)

Formula 1 is currently a sellers’ market. The sport recently rejected Andretti-Cadillac’s bid to join the grid as an eleventh team. Subsequently, buying an existing squad could be the best option for any project like Andretti to enter the sport. Moreover, Renault and Andretti were in talks for a potential power units supply, as such the two could open discussions.

However, there has been no signs of Renault wanting to sell its team entirely. The Enstone-based squad already has received an influx of cash which could fuel its efforts for the foreseeable future. Moreover, Michael Andretti has not made any comments on acquiring an existing team to enter F1 since his proposal was rejected. Although, such a scenario could open in the coming months if Renault finally loses its patience.

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What’s next for the Alpine F1 team?

Alpine made a major technical overhaul after the Bahrain GP. Now, the French team would have a ‘three-pillared’ approach for its technical departments, following McLaren’s structure. The Renault works team will have three different Technical Directors, one each for engineering, aerodynamics, and performance. With the three figures reporting directly to Famin.

Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly
Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly (Via: Imago)

The French team will need to make major progress to bounce back after the dismal start to the year. Major upgrades will be brought in the coming races which could help the team’s prospects. However, it would likely take months before Alpine could sort out its issues with the A524. Perhaps, 2024 might be an entire write-off for Enstone.

Certainly, Alpine is determined to get back to the midfield pack in F1. Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly have publicly expressed support for the team in this troubling period. However, the French team will need to plan for the long-term to ensure that it can stay competitive. Moreover, with the 2026 rules just around the corner, Alpine might be forced to sacrifice its upcoming season to have a better shot at the new regulations.

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