Renault group chief Luca de Meo has given the Alpine team a telling off, reportedly confirming Bruno Famin as permanent team boss
Renault group chief Luca de Meo has overall responsibility over more than 100,000 employees. Alpine’s Formula 1 project is only a very small part of his agenda. Accordingly, it carries weight when de Meo decides to address the workforce in person and not leave it to the management around Bruno Famin.
On Wednesday, de Meo gathered all the staff in Enstone (England) to give a speech. The engine factory in Viry-Chatillon (France) was connected via video conference, as were employees who had Wednesday off. Even the two drivers, Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon, had to turn up in person.
French sports newspaper L’Equipe has since also caught wind that de Meo was at Enstone, describing his 40-minute speech as an “electric shock”. In an article on the CEO’s speech, it is described as an “end to insouciance”, a “telling off for an impetuous teenager”.
And de Meo allegedly also created facts. Bruno Famin, initially appointed team boss on an interim basis since Otmar Szafnauer was sacked in July, is now to remain in his role permanently after all. This puts to rest rumours that former Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto could soon take Famin’s place.
At least, if the story from L’Equipe is true. This is because it differs from the official Alpine spokesperson. Famin is still vice-president of Alpine Motorsport and team boss on an interim basis, they say. De Meo, however, has expressed confidence in him and made it clear that Famin is the boss. It doesn’t sound as if they are looking hard for a successor.
De Meo gathered the staff at the so-called “race bay”, i.e. the bays where the cars are disassembled and reassembled before the races. He had “reiterated his and the group’s support for the Formula One project and provided an update on the team’s roadmap going forward”,
People who witnessed the speech live describe de Meo’s words as firm and at times sharp, and above all emotional. The CEO is said to have made it clear that those who are now pulling along and taking the team forward again have no reason to worry. But those who are stuck in old patterns would have no future.
In doing so, de Meo also made it unequivocally clear that he would no longer tolerate the quality of the communication between Enstone (chassis) and Viry (engine), which has been rather lacking so far. The fact that Englishmen and Frenchmen sit at separate tables at the race track or that sometimes even different hotels are booked is unacceptable, he said.
De Meo demands that the thinking that here is Enstone and there is Viry be abolished. They are one team. No wonder, since it had recently become known that the Renault power unit is the worst in the Formula 1 field. Apparently, this has led to mutual recriminations between the English and the French behind the scenes of the team.
De Meo is said to have demanded that this cooperation should now also be presented to the outside world. He indirectly criticised the notorious “amateur” interview of Alpine CEO Laurent Rossi at the Miami Grand Prix. Criticism should henceforth be discussed internally, but not taken to the outside world.