Alpine F1 are considering a second team

Fernando Alonso of Spain Alpine A521 Renault on track during qualifying ahead of the 2021 Russian Grand Prix in Sochi. (Photo by Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images)
Fernando Alonso of Spain Alpine A521 Renault on track during qualifying ahead of the 2021 Russian Grand Prix in Sochi. (Photo by Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images)

French manufacturing outfit and engine provider Alpine F1 is reportedly considering a second satellite team with the aim of promotiits junior drivers.

Veteran journalist Joe Saward wrote on his blog, saying:

“I’m told that Alpine is sniffing around the idea of helping to create a new team, which would involve (in theory) a $200 million entry fee, in order to create a situation similar to that which Red Bull enjoys with Scuderia AlphaTauri.”
The Renault F1 team has now been rebadged as Alpine F1. (Photo by Chris Bird/Getty Images)
The Renault F1 team has now been rebadged as Alpine F1. (Photo by Chris Bird/Getty Images)

Alpine F1, under the Renault badging, dominated the V8 era as an engine provider, helping Red Bull Racing win four titles with Sebastian Vettel behind the wheel. The French manufacturer supplied up to four teams during that period, and a minimum of three teams in the current V6 era.

Until the 2018 season, the team supplied itself, Red Bull Racing, and McLaren. From 2019, it began losing its customer teams due to underpowered engines.

When Red Bull Racing switched to Honda as its engine provider in 2019, which its junior team had already switched to in 2018, their longstanding relationship with the French manufacturer ended on a sour note.

On the flipside, McLaren was driven into the arms of the French supplier since 2018 after a messy breakup with Honda. However, they would be Renault's last customer team with a partnership that did not last beyond 2020, as they moved on to Mercedes power.

Alpine F1's idea for a second team might boost its junior driver program and engine development plans

With no teams to supply engines to, and its current drivers’ line-up sorted, the French manufacturing outfit, which has several junior drivers to field into the sport, has been unable to find them seats. One of the advantages of having customer teams is the junior driver program that gets boosted along with it.

Commenting on their limited options to field junior drivers, Saward said:

“All of these problems would be eased if Alpine had a customer team for its engines, but options seem limited right now – although if there is a better engine in 2022 people may be more interested.”

Commenting on the B-team or junior team model in the F1 structure, Saward said:

“That may seem mad, but having a second team would mean having a good asset (as teams are going up in value) and is something that Alpine will need to help develop the new F1 engines in 2026.”

While the Renault group has other alliances with automotive companies such as Nissan and Mitsubishi, Saward feels the junior team or B-team idea could provide a good opportunity to field their Alpine brands. He explained:

“In the circumstances bank-rolling a new operation could make as much sense as buying an existing team, and there would, of course, be marketing opportunities with brands in the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance.”

According to Saward, Alpine F1 team manager Davide Brivio might leave the team by the end of the year and return to the Suzuki outfit in MotoGP, as speculated by the grapevine in Italy. He wrote:

“The news means that Alpine F1 will now have only two bosses rather than three, which is a step towards the conventional structure.”

When Renault returned to F1 as a manufacturing outfit in 2016 following a six-year hiatus from being an engine provider, they targeted being a frontrunner at some point. However, currently badged as Alpine, the French manufacturer has not only lost customer teams for its engines, but also has no seats for its junior drivers Oscar Piastri and Guanyu Zhou.

Piastri and Zhou have both been linked with Alfa Romeo’s second seat for 2022, however, none have been confirmed yet. Alpine’s inability to place its junior drivers on the grid might be resolved by the advent of a second team. A potential junior team for the French outfit would also give it two more cars to develop its engines on and transition from midfield to the front smoothly.

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Edited by Sandeep Banerjee