Alpine CEO Laurent Rossi admits he faced a steep learning curve in his first season at the helm of a Formula 1 team.
Rossi was appointed CEO of Alpine a year ago after Cyril Abiteboul left the former Renault team, and oversaw the first year for the rebranded French constructor. In a season that included highlights such as Esteban Ocon’s victory in Hungary and Fernando Alonso’s podium in Qatar, Alpine ended up beating AlphaTauri to fifth in the constructors’ championship, and Rossi said he had a lot to learn along the way.
“I had an expectation that it was going to be a rollercoaster, and it has been,” Rossi told RACER. “A steep learning curve obviously, because I’m new to the sport, at least in my capacity.
“I’m not new to the sport as an engineer and as a manager, because I’m an engine engineer and a fluid mechanics engineer. So basically I can understand everything that is going on, and I have a lot of friends that, after school, went into Formula 1. I’m still in contact with them; some of them work for me now, so this part was OK. To learn a bit of the sport itself… I knew (it) from the outside, because as a member of the Renault Executive Committee I was participating in a couple of races, but it’s different watching it and being part of it. But I would say it’s going well.”
Alpine scored points in all but two races last year, and Rossi is encouraged by the performance levels of the team as a whole, even if the car’s capabilities limited his aspirations.
“Obviously if we would have had a faster car I would have been a bit happier, but it’s OK,” he said. “It’s the end of an era for this car and we learned a lot of things, we’ve put things together. I told the team many times that it’s the sum of all details that matter, and even if the car is not fast the rest has to really be top quality.
“And they’ve done that, they’ve learned from every single race – between mistakes, missed opportunities here and there, strategy, tires, this and that – and we’ve put it together with what was absolutely unexpected, with the win in Hungary. That gave it a nice twist, because it showed that we didn’t work for nothing.
“And it’s like the hard work that we do in the background and behind the scenes that nobody sees because you’re not winning, you’re not on the top of the rankings… suddenly it pays off and you’re like, ‘Ha!’ and everyone is happy. So all in all, a pretty good year, a tough year, but a pretty good year and exciting.”