Introduction to Alpine F1 Team - history, today and tomorrow

Introduction to Alpine F1 Team - history, today and tomorrow

02.03.2021: In September 2020, Luca De Meo, announced the creation of Alpine F1 Team, a renaissance of Groupe Renault’s F1 team, one of F1’s most historic and successful teams.


In September 2020, Luca De Meo, announced the creation of Alpine F1 Team, a renaissance of Groupe Renault’s F1 team, one of F1’s most historic and successful teams.
 



Already recognised for its records and successes in endurance and rallying, the Alpine name naturally finds its place in the high standards, prestige and performance of Formula 1. The Alpine brand, a symbol of sporting prowess, elegance and agility, will be designated to the chassis and pay tribute to the expertise that gave birth to the A110.



It is part of Groupe Renault’s strategy to clearly position each of its brands. For Alpine, this is a key step to accelerate the development and influence of the brand. Renault remains an integral part of the team, with the hybrid power unit retaining its Renault E-Tech moniker and unique expertise in hybrid powertrains.



Luca De Meo, CEO Groupe Renault
: “It is a true joy to see the powerful, vibrant Alpine name on a Formula One car. New colours, new managing team, ambitious plans: it’s a new beginning, building on a 40-year history. We’ll combine Alpine’s values of authenticity, elegance and audacity with our in-house engineering & chassis expertise. That’s the beauty of racing as a works team in Formula 1. We will compete against the biggest names, for spectacular car races made and followed by cheering enthusiasts. I can’t wait for the season to start.”




Alpine Today and Tomorrow



As part of Groupe Renault’s strategic plan ‘Renaulution’, Alpine unveiled its long-term plans to position the brand at the forefront of Groupe Renault’s innovation.



Alpine is arguably the epitome of French motoring, building on remarkable victories throughout its history. It is a brand with heritage and pedigree. It is also a factory with highly skilled specialists manufacturing the A110 in Dieppe.  



The activities of Alpine Cars, Renault Sport Cars and Renault Sport Racing are united as one entity under the Alpine brand. The newly created entity intends to be a “new generation” automotive Brand for discerning, passionate early adopters.



Alpine will also leverage the scale and capabilities of Groupe Renault and the RNM Alliance including technology with the Alliance EV-native platform, a global manufacturing footprint, a powerful purchasing arm ensuring optimum cost competitiveness, a global distribution network and RCI Bank and Services. The clear objective is to be profitable in 2025 including investment in motorsport.



Alpine is present in 16 countries globally with a network of 74 dedicated dealerships.



Laurent Rossi, CEO Alpine:
“The new Alpine entity takes three brands with separate assets and areas of excellence to turn them into an empowered, fully-fledged business.



The craftsmanship from our plant in Dieppe, the engineering mastery from our Formula One and Renault Sport teams will shine through our tech-infused, 100% electric line-up, taking the beautiful Alpine name to the future. We’ll be on the tracks and on the roads, authentic and high-tech, disruptive and passionate.”



“Formula 1 will be at the centre of the business unit. Alpine’s reputation has stemmed from racing and placing the pinnacle of motorsport at the heart of the company is certainly exciting. Formula 1 provides a fascinating marketing platform with half a billion fans worldwide.



That brings the unique opportunity for the best possible global branding to create value around Alpine. In addition, Formula 1 is built on ingenuity and cutting-edge features, with every detail absolutely paramount to success. This Formula 1 know-how will play a seminal role in transitioning expertise from the track into our road cars.



“More immediately, as a team, we enter an exciting chapter in the sport with the 2022 regulation changes on the horizon. This marks a new era for Formula 1 and an opportunity to climb the summit. This year is a transitional year – as it is for all teams – and we look forward to racing and putting Alpine on the global stage.”




Introduction to Alpine F1 Team



The team first entered the Formula 1 World Championship in 1977 as Renault with Jean-Pierre Jabouille and the famed R.S.01, which featured the first ever turbocharged engine in Formula 1.



Although initially going without success, the team secured its first points in the 1978 United States Grand Prix with Jabouille’s fourth place. Regular success soon followed, and the team claimed its first Formula 1 victory in the 1979 French Grand Prix, again, with pioneer Jabouille, who was joined on the podium by René Arnoux after his legendary on-track battle with Gilles Villeneuve.



Over the next five years, more wins followed, with Alain Prost signing with the team from 1981 to 1983, a period in which the team won 11 races, including nine for Prost. The team continued in Formula 1 until 1985. For the latter part of the 1980s and 1990s, Renault focused its Formula 1 efforts solely on engine supply with extended success mainly with Williams.



The works Renault team did not return to Formula 1 until 2002 – housing its entry at Enstone for the first time. By 2003 it was fighting for Grand Prix wins and podiums and in 2005 and 2006 claimed back-to-back world championship titles with Fernando Alonso for the first time in its history. The team continued in Formula 1 until 2011 with a handful of wins, the last of which occurring in the 2008 Japanese Grand Prix with Alonso. Renault returned to Formula 1 in 2016 with the aim of climbing its way back to the front of the grid.



In 2020, the team secured its first podium since the 2010 Belgian Grand Prix, courtesy of Daniel Ricciardo’s fine effort in the Eifel Grand Prix before he repeated that feat in Imola weeks later with Esteban Ocon claiming second in Sakhir at the penultimate Grand Prix of the season.



Now, the team takes on a new guise in Alpine, ready to write the next chapter in its Formula 1 history with two-time world champion Alonso partnering Frenchman Ocon at the wheel of the A521.







Team History with Enstone



Enstone and Viry-Châtillon have collaborated to develop and enter a Formula 1 team since 1995, winning three Formula 1 Constructors’ and Drivers’ Championships during that time, including: Michael Schumacher in 1995 (Benetton-Renault) and Fernando Alonso’s double for Renault F1 Team in 2005 and 2006.



The Enstone-Viry effort has completed 25 Formula 1 seasons under a number of guises between Benetton, Renault, Lotus and now, for the first time, Alpine. A whole host of world championship winning drivers have competed for the team during that time from Schumacher and Alonso to Kimi Räikkönen and Jenson Button. Enstone and Viry are synonymous with Formula 1 as it begins its new chapter with Alpine, which is steeped in its own motorsport heritage, notably in rallying and endurance racing in the 1970s.



1995 – 2001 – Benetton/Renault, Benetton/Playlife


2002 – 2011 – Renault F1 Team
2012 – 2014 – Lotus F1 Team
2016 – 2020 – Renault F1 Team
2021 – Alpine F1 Team


First Entry: 1995 Brazilian Grand Prix (Benetton-Renault)

Seasons: 25
Grands Prix: 467
Wins: 34
Pole Positions: 27
Podiums: 126
Fastest Laps: 34


Drivers’ Championships: 3 (1995; Michael Schumacher, 2005; Fernando Alonso, 2006; Alonso)
Constructors’ Championships: 3 (1995, 2005, 2006)




First year with Enstone, first championship victory in the 90s   


The Enstone-Viry collaboration began with immediate success in 1995 when Benetton-Renault claimed a Drivers-Constructors’ Championship double. It was Michael Schumacher’s second of seven career titles, having also won with the already Enstone-based Benetton the previous year. Johnny Herbert finished the season fourth, contributing to the team’s 137 points on its way to the Constructors’ Championship. Benetton finished the 1996 and 1997 Formula 1 seasons third in the championship with Jean Alesi, Gerhard Berger and Alexander Wurz.



Double championship success in the 2000s


Benetton continued in Formula 1 under Renault power – branded Playlife between 1998-2000 – before Renault took over the entry, and the Enstone site, from 2002. The team finished fourth in 2002 and 2003 before edging closer to the top of the field in 2004 by finishing third. 10 years after partnering for its first title in 1995, the Enstone-Viry bases combined for its second Driver-Constructor double when Fernando Alonso delivered his and Renault’s first championship titles.




The team repeated the feat in 2006 with Alonso adding a second championship trophy. During those two seasons, the team recorded 16 wins, 14 Pole Positions, 8 Fastest Laps, 21 further Podiums and 397 points from 37 races.





Lotus in the 2010s


Renault continued in Formula 1 until the end of the 2011 season with Lotus taking over the Enstone base under Viry’s strong, V8, Renault power, which had contributed to Red Bull Racing’s Championship success in 2010 and 2011. The team caught the eye with the signing of Kimi Räikkönen, marking the Finnish driver’s return to the sport, alongside Romain Grosjean.



The combination proved strong with the team punching above its weight between 2012 and 2013, finishing fourth in the championship on both occasions with memorable Grand Prix victories in Abu Dhabi (2012) and Australia (2013) with Räikkönen. New engine regulations came into place in 2014 and Lotus opted for Mercedes power units for 2015, bringing a temporary end to the Enstone-Viry partnership, which had spanned 20 consecutive seasons.



Renault’s return



Renault announced its intentions to return to Formula 1 at the end of 2015, ahead of the 2016 season, ending a four-year absence from the sport and reuniting the Enstone and Viry bases.



The team finished ninth in 2016 before climbing its way through the championship over the following years: sixth in 2017, fourth in 2018 and fifth over the last two seasons. Daniel Ricciardo’s podium at the Eifel Grand Prix was the first Enstone-Viry podium since Grosjean’s second place at the 2013 United States Grand Prix.



Alpine


Midway through the 2020 season, the team announced its plans for a rebrand in 2021 with Alpine F1 Team becoming the team’s entry, maintaining Enstone as its chassis base and Viry for its power unit.






Alpine F1 Team HQ
Enstone


The Whiteways Technical Centre is based on the site of a former quarry and has housed a Formula 1 team since 1992. In the past, the facility has been home to Benetton, Renault and Lotus.



Now, Enstone is home to Alpine F1 Team’s A521 chassis operations with on-site facilities including: manufacturing, gearbox development and integration, electronics, research and development, wind tunnel, driver simulator, paint shop, engineering offices and the home base of the race team.



There are 750 employees at Enstone, made up of 32 different nationalities from across the globe, ranging from Britons to Cypriots, Kenyans to South Koreans.



Enstone has contributed to three championship victories, beginning with Benetton-Renault in 1995 and the double championship winning years in 2005 and 2006.



The low-lying ground provides an ideal location for the team’s operations with the Enstone buildings complying with the landscape restrictions in the Oxfordshire area, known as “an area of outstanding, natural beauty”. The area is also unofficially known as “motorsport valley” because of the number of Formula 1 teams based in the geographical triangle between Birmingham, London and Bristol in the United Kingdom. The factory receives frequent visits from the local wildlife throughout all four seasons. Rabbits and wild cats are the most common on the site, as are red kite and tawny owls in the air.



Viry-Châtillon


On the other side of the Channel, Viry-Châtillon, Paris, France, is the base of the Renault E-Tech 20B Power Unit design and development. Located just south of the French capital, the Viry site is 25,300m2 and employs over 500 people. The Formula 1 Power Unit is designed, assembled and tested in Viry.



Formula 1 operations in Viry began in 1976 following the close of the Alpine competition department. The factory manufactured the first turbocharged engine seen in Formula 1, the Renault-Gordini EF1 1.5litre V6. After supporting its own manufacturer team from 1977 to 1983, Renault first began its engine customer supply in 1983 with Team Lotus. Success soon followed, as did demand for more customer supply including deals with Ligier and Tyrrell in the 1980s. The first period of extended success began with Williams who dominated the early part of the 1990s, winning the championship in 1992, 1993, 1994, 1996 and 1997. Contributing to the manufacturer team’s championship success in 2005 and 2006, Renault then supplied engines to Red Bull Racing, who clinched four consecutive championships between 2010 and 2013.



Recently, the factory has seen extensive upgrades to combat the growing technology capabilities in car racing. In more recent times, in 2018, a new engine dyno was installed to allow improved accuracy and refinement in the development of the Power Unit and, in 2019, a new 4000m2 building was finalised to accommodate the growing workforce and to update the current facilities.

 

- AlpineF1 also photos

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02.03.2021 / MaP

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