Given the investment required to compete in F1, using the Alpine name suggests that de Meo has big plans for the brand. Keeping the power units branded as Renault also helps firm up the links between the sub-brand and its parent firm.
Renault in Formula 1
Renault originally entered F1 in 1977, with its team helping pioneer the use of turbocharged engines. The original works team left F1 after 1985, with the firm remaining as an engine supplier the following year. It returned as an engine supplier in 1989, running naturally aspirated V10 engines and achieved championship success with both Williams and Benetton, eventually buying Benetton to run as a full works team for 2002.
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.
Future of Alpine assured in Group Renault reorganisation
Renault’s F1 boss on the 2020 season and title ambitions