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Alpine boss denies Andretti link

Alpine boss Bruno Famin rejected suggestions the team could be sold to Andretti

Alpine boss Bruno Famin rejected suggestions the team could be sold to Andretti. Picture: XPB Images

Interim-Alpine team principal Bruno Famin has rejected suggestions the operation could sell a significant stake to Andretti Autosport.

The Enstone-based operation is in turmoil after the sackings of former team principal Otmar Szafnauer and long-standing sporting director Alan Permane.

Their departures, bizarrely announced following opening practice at the Belgian Grand Prix, coincided with news that technical director Pat Fry had joined Williams.

Only days prior, Alpine CEO Laurent Rossi was moved sideways from his role into a ‘special projects’ position within the broader Renault Group, with Famin taking his place.

The Frenchman has now assumed the position of team principal due to the lack of suitable alternatives being immediately available, though Mattia Binotto has been touted as a probable ultimate candidate.

Another possibility raised within the F1 fraternity was that Renault is gearing up to sell the organisation.

It recently shed a 24 percent stake to a group of investors that included Hollywood actor Ryan Reynolds in a deal that valued the team at around USD $900 million.

That leaves Renault with a remaining interest worth, hypothetically, in the region of USD $695 million.

Michael Andretti, owner of Andretti Autosport, has made no secret of his desire to enter F1 in future and is one of those to have submitted a dossier to the FIA with a view to being granted entry.

As previously reported, Andretti has links with Renault/Alpine after securing an engine supply from the French marque.

The FIA process in assessing prospective new entrants remains ongoing with a raft of criteria, sporting and financial, needing to be met. Even then, the sport’s commercial rights holders must agree to allow any new teams – something which has never happened previously.

On that front, there has been resistance within the sport to allowing a new team, reasoning that it cheapens the value of existing franchises with the argument running that those wishing to enter would be better served buying one of the existing entries.

“We have a fascinating project with Alpine,” Famin told an exclusive group of media, including Speedcafe.

“The real project is developing the Alpine, supported by the Alpine F1 team, the endurance project, so we are totally focused on that one.

“It’s really part of the Alpine project.”

The value Renault gains from using the Alpine brand is unclear.

A boutique brand, Alpine produces just a single model, the A110, a car worth around AUD $100,000 that has been in production since 2018 and has sold fewer than 15,000 examples globally.

“The more successful we will be in Formula 1, the better it will be for the brand, for sure,” Famin asserted.

“As it has always been, with all my experience in motorsport, the story is the same – to justify a motorsport programme you need to explain to the big boss that it’s the equivalent to advertising.

“The difference with Alpine is that Alpine has the sport in its heart, it’s more natural, and it’s really the challenge of developing the brand directly, and it’s really the strategy of the brand to develop it through motorsport.”

Under financial regulations, teams are limited to a shade over USD $135 million per season on the performance aspects of their F1 operation, with marketing and other costs on top of that (including the salary of its top three employees).

Motorsport is therefore a significant marketing investment for comparatively little reward and seemingly no clear link in the eyes of the consumer back to the main Renault brand.

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