The Renault F1 team will be rebranded as Alpine F1 for next season, as part of a major push for the performance sub-brand.
The French giant’s F1 outfit, which is run from Enstone, Oxfordshire, will carry the name and colours of the revived sports car firm. The 1.6-litre hybrid powertrains will remain branded as Renault E-tech units, ensuring the car firm retains an identity in F1.
A promotional image released by Group Renault previews a car finished predominantly in Alpine’s signature blue, but with the rear of the car colours in red and white, likely to reflect the French flag. Double world champion Fernando Alonso has already signed to race for the team next year.
New Group Renault boss Luca de Meo said: “By introducing Alpine, a symbol of French excellence, to the most prestigious of the world’s automotive disciplines, we are continuing the adventure of manufacturers in a renewed sport. We are bringing a dream brand alongside the biggest names, for spectacular car races made and followed by enthusiasts.”
The Alpine F1 will continue to be headed by Cyril Abiteboul, who recently took responsibility for the full Alpine brand as part of a major Group Renault reorganisation. He said that Alpine “brings a new meaning, new values and colours to the paddock”, adding that the team would benefit from planned new technical rules and a cost cap being introduced for 2022.
He added: “Alpine has its place in Formula 1 and can challenge for victory.”
Team bosses recently signed up to Formula 1’s new Concorde Agreement, the document governing the sport that kicks in from 2022, tying Group Renault to remaining in the category. There had been some speculation Renault was considering the future of the team it owned, given its continuing struggles to match the likes of Mercedes-AMG and Red Bull-Honda.
The decision to switch the team to Alpine will put the squad up against sports car brands such as Ferrari and Aston Martin in 2021. It is also a significant move for the Alpine brand, which has only produced one car – the highly rated A110 – since it was revived by Group Renault. The future of Alpine has been up for debate for some time, with reports suggesting that the most likely approach is for it to become a performance figurehead for the firm, with the introduction of electrified and full electric models.
The squad achieved back-to-back championships with Fernando Alonso in 2004 and 2005, but slipped down the order before he left, and the firm eventually sold the team in 2010 in the wake of the ‘crashgate’ scandal. It continued to supply engines, powering Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull to four consecutive titles from 2010 until 2013, but grew frustrated because it believed it wasn’t getting the credit it deserved for its success.
That prompted it to buy back the Enstone-based squad to run as a works team in 2016, although it has since struggled to match the top teams.
Alpine in motorsport
Alpine has a long history in motorsport, although it has never previously competed in F1. Having achieved success in rallying in modified Renault cars, Jean Redele founded Alpine in 1954, and in the 1960s achieved success in rallying essentially running as Renault’s works outfit.
In 1967 Alpine built an A350 F1 car in response to a grant from the French government. The machine was tested, but plans to enter it in the 1968 French GP were eventually scrapped.
Alpine finished first, second and fourth in the 1971 Monte Carlo Rally with the original A110, and used the car to win the inaugural World Rally Championship for Manufacturers in 1973.
In the 1970s Alpine and Gordini were merged to form Renault Sport for an attack on the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and it also built Formula 2 and Formula 3 chassis (although because they didn’t run Renault engines they were not branded as Alpine).
When Renault revived the brand in 2013 it partnered with sportscar squad Signatech to enter a Nissan-powered prototype in the LMP2 class of the European Le Mans Series. The squad has also regularly run in the division at Le Mans.