10 Pierre Gasly, (FRA) Alpine F1 Team during the Monaco GP, 23-26 May 2024 Montecarlo, Formula 1 World championship 2024.

F1 Rumor: Alpine to ditch lame F1 engine (3rd Update)

(GMM) Alpine’s new F1 advisor Flavio Briatore is not denying that the team’s manufacturer parent Renault could totally scrap its 2026 engine project.

“I don’t comment on these kinds of rumors,” team boss Bruno Famin told Canal Plus in Barcelona.

Flavio Briatore
Flavio Briatore (ITA) Alpine F1 Team Executive Advisor. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 10, Spanish Grand Prix, Friday 21st June 2024. Barcelona, Spain.

Briatore, the struggling Enstone based team’s former ultra-successful boss, has been appointed by Renault CEO Luca de Meo to end the performance crisis.

“I’m now looking at the whole situation now,” the 74-year-old Italian told Sonntags blick newspaper. “I’ll quickly find out where the problems are.

“I’m returning thanks to Luca. I wouldn’t have done it with anyone who was previously at the top of the Renault group,” Briatore also told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

“He is one of the geniuses we exported from Italy, a fantastic person who wants results right away. He’s not getting them and so he took someone who knows how to get results. More or less that’s how the whole thing started.”

Interestingly, on the demanding Barcelona layout, Alpine’s woeful 2024 car suddenly performed better. “Now we have to understand why,” smiled Pierre Gasly.

“I wish I could give you the answer, but I don’t have it.”

What is clear is that Renault has struggled to ever produce a competitive ‘hybrid’ engine dating all the way back a decade. And now, with the electric elements ramping up even more for the 2026 rules, there are rumors Alpine could simply become a Red Bull or Mercedes engine customer.

“I will be the boss’s advisor and will do whatever I can to help the team win races,” said Briatore. “Therefore, I will do what I know how to do.”

As for whether that might involve giving up the team’s works engine status, however, he told La Repubblica newspaper: “There is no decision and no ongoing negotiations.

“We are evaluating all options to become competitive again.”

Team boss Famin, though, sounded furious to be asked about the swirling speculation.

“We don’t know who makes the rumors, but one thing is certain – they are extremely destabilizing for the team,” he said. “We are looking for every opportunity to develop the team’s performance as quickly as possible.”

Briatore joined Famin and Renault CEO de Meo, meanwhile, in ruling out a team sale.

“100 percent not,” Briatore said in Barcelona.

One of Briatore’s tasks will be to advise on the 2025 driver lineup, with Gasly likely to keep his seat.

As for the other seat, former F1 driver Ralf Schumacher is hoping Briatore’s old relationship with Michael Schumacher might give young Mick’s chances of a race return a boost.

“Flavio wants to see performance first,” Ralf told Auto Bild. “That is crucial. But it is certainly not a disadvantage that there are still good contacts with the family.”

June 21, 2024 

(GMM) This rumor is upgraded to ‘strong’ today. Pierre Gasly has hinted that Alpine really is contemplating buying a customer engine from a rival Formula 1 manufacturer.

Renault’s factory F1 outfit remains in deep performance and personnel crisis in 2024, and the situation is not likely to change this weekend in Barcelona.

“We won’t have any upgrades in the near future,” team driver Gasly admitted ahead of the Spanish GP.

“I expect the next few grands prix to be quite tough if the conditions are normal.”

Pierre Gasly
#10 Pierre Gasly, (FRA) Alpine F1 Team, with his girlfriend Katerina Berezhna during the Monaco GP, 23-26 May 2024 Monte Carlo, Formula 1 World championship 2024.

Any semblance of harmony between Gasly and his French countryman Esteban Ocon has also now collapsed, with Gasly again accusing his teammate of not moving over fast enough last time out in Canada.

“I don’t want to comment on that,” Ocon, who has been ousted for 2025, said in Barcelona. “I don’t want to talk about Canada anymore.”

And when asked to compare his relationship with Ocon with his relationship with world champion Max Verstappen, Gasly said on Thursday: “I have a good relationship with Max and I have no relationship with Esteban.”

As for the wild rumours that Renault could scrap its ongoing 2026 power unit project and simply ‘buy’ a customer Mercedes engine, that story has been met with widespread disbelief.

“Luca de Meo, the boss of the Renault group, a historic engine manufacturer, is said to have inquired with Red Bull, Honda and even Mercedes or Ferrari to find out if it would be possible to become a customer team,” said L’Equipe correspondent Frederic Ferret.

“Imagine your baker crossing the street to buy his baguettes from the neighbor before coming back to sell them to you in his shop. Do you find that absurd? I do too,” he added.

Jean-Michel Desnoues, writing for France’s Auto Hebdo, described the idea as “laughable”, with Auto Motor und Sport’s Michael Schmidt saying it’s “crazy”.

“Apart from the fact that this shouldn’t be allowed because Renault committed itself to 2030 by approving the new engine regulations, you can only shake your head.”

Incredibly, though, there appears to be some truth behind the wild rumor.

When asked what he thinks of the idea, Gasly suggested that Alpine and Renault really are contemplating it because the team wants to “obtain the best results and extract the maximum performance”.

“As a team, it is important to consider all the options and then to form your own opinion on what’s best for performance,” he added.

“The objective is clear – we want to be competitive, fighting at the front. The team is open about this, I trust the management’s decision and have no concerns about it.

“Yes, we would lose our status as a factory team, but the regulations are drawn up in such a way that there is clear parity between the parties, especially in terms of engines,” Gasly said.

Alpine announced on Friday that Flavio Briatore has signed up as Renault CEO de Meo’s ‘executive advisor’, with Auto Bild claiming the flamboyant Italian may already be in talks with Mercedes about a 2026 customer engine deal.

June 18, 2024 

(GMM) Renault CEO Luca de Meo says it’s critical that the Alpine team finally gets “things right” for the next regulations cycle beginning in 2026.

Wild rumors are currently doing the rounds suggesting the Enstone based team may actually be contemplating abandoning its 2026 engine project at Viry-Chatillon.

De Meo freely admits that Renault messed up its last major engine project.

“When we began the hybrid era, our engine didn’t perform,” he told Autocar, referring to 2014. “We had been world champions with Red Bull, but with hybrid, things went wrong.

“Even the engine we developed in 2021 had a 0.2 to 0.5 second disadvantage every lap,” de Meo added. “And this year we’ve screwed up with the car.

“If you combine everything, we’re up to 1.5 seconds from where we need to be.”

According to the latest speculation, Renault may simply scrap its 2026 engine project altogether, and revert to being a mere customer of another F1 manufacturer.

An early front-runner could be former partner Red Bull’s new Red Bull Powertrains-Ford engine project, while Mercedes may have the capacity to add a new customer given Aston Martin’s move to Honda power from 2026.

De Meo continued: “For this year and 2025, we will try with the current setup, then push to get things right for the next cycle. That’s the challenge.

“But we will do everything necessary to be a competitive team.”

Meanwhile, both France’s Auto Hebdo as well as Blick newspaper (Switzerland) believe Valtteri Bottas could be an option to replace departing Alpine driver Esteban Ocon next year.

June 17, 2024 

Rumor has it that the Alpine F1 team has been making inquiries to other F1 engine suppliers about Alpine using their engines for their Alpine F1 team instead of their own lame engines that are down on power to everyone else.

It is understood that a plan is now being evaluated for Renault to potentially abandon work on its 2026 power unit and instead shift Alpine to become a customer team.

Autosport sources have revealed that Alpine team principal Bruno Famin has been pondering the situation over recent weeks, and has held talks with rival manufacturers to see what the alternative options could be.

Mercedes was mentioned as a possible supplier since it is losing the Aston Martin Team in 2026.

If Alpine does decide to go down the customer engine route, and cannot reach its own agreement with another manufacturer, then F1’s regulations detail how one of the sport’s current engine suppliers would be called upon to supply it so it is not left without a power unit.

That would likely end up in Honda being requested to provide an engine, as it is the only existing manufacturer that does not have plans for a second customer team in 2026.

While Alpine’s engine situation appears fluid right now, it comes with Renault CEO Luca de Meo making it clear recently that he was committed to the future of Alpine in F1, despite interest from potential buyers.

However, if Alpine becomes a customer team for its engines, it would make it easier for Andretti Global to buy the team.

With that said, if Alpine/Renault no longer produces F1 engines, the series would have gained one (Audi) and lost one (Renault). They also lost Porsche.  So while the 2026 tree-hugger engine regulations were supposed to attract more manufacturers, so far it has not.

As for Cadillac, they too will drop out if Andretti does not get approved to enter F1. GM has made it clear they are either entering F1 with Andretti, or they are out.

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