Rossi on Alpine's performance and the Monaco Grand Prix

Just a few weeks before the Monaco Grand Prix, Alpine CEO Laurent Rossi mentioned on a French TV interview how he wasn't impressed with his team's performance. He mentioned that their performance was “unacceptable” and sometimes “amateurish.” The Monaco race came at the right time as it took a little bit of the pressure away, seeing the CEO was impressed when he took a picture celebrating Esteban Ocon's podium win. 

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The team performed quite well, converting the grid positions into good results, with both cars racing against Mercedes and Ferrari. However, Alpine is not yet satisfied with its current standings as it stands on number five. The team car is not yet quick enough so its still all about making the most of the opportunities that come by. 

Laurent Rossi commented, “Yeah, it's good, it's important, we got some points that we need desperately needed. Because we didn't deliver at the level of performance that we should have in the first few races, which was the purpose of my message. So we kind of caught up, a big haul of points, which helps us strengthen at least the fifth position in a good fashion, which is nice. Now, let's not get ahead of ourselves. I doubt we're P3, on the face of it. We're probably going to get back to the natural order next week in Barcelona, I would assume something like anywhere between six and 10, I guess.” 

He added, "And then we'll continue doing what I was expecting the team to do, which is deliver on operational excellence and show a different mindset in terms of like analyzing errors, mistakes, addressing them, and delivering something solid like that, which is very good."

On the performance of the car, Rossi understands that making their car, the A523 more competitive and in the league with Mercedes and Ferrari won't be easy. "On the performance side of the car, this takes time," he said. “There are going to be upgrades. We can see that the aero maturity is kind of like getting there, everyone understands the car more, we're kind of plateauing. So it's as much the rest now, how to operate the car in any condition and make sure that you deliver. So this is going to be the rest of the season, which is going to be quite interesting.” 

"But yeah, at least the last two races Miami and Monaco have shown the type of behavior and operational excellence that helped us actually get fifth in 2021, when we had the sixth car, and get fourth last year when we had the fourth car. Because it was strong, it was solid. And I'm glad to see that the team got back to that level. This is Alpine. And I'm sure they're very proud, and they can be."

In connection to his comments about the team's performance, Rossi said the team management knew already what he thought. "I also sent that message across to people individually," he commented. “One thing that you forget is that I am not the team principal. So, I only spend a little bit of my time on F1 now by design, because I have actually a very capable set of managers at the head of Alpine F1. So I told them many times what I thought. And then I was asked by journalists, investors, people from the outside world whether or not I was happy with that, and what was my diagnostics, so I also have to give it out there.” 

He continued, "So you thought it was addressed to my team, it was addressed almost equally to the external world as the internal one. Don't forget, we are part of a publicly-traded group. We have plenty of partners, sponsors. And they sometimes wonder if, on the face of it, the team is going in the right direction. And so you also need to send them a reassuring message that there is someone there who knows that this is under par compared to our ambitions."

Most are assuming that Rossi's comments were aimed at the team principal, Otmar Szafnauer. Rossi took time to address those assumptions when he said, "It became because I said that, Otmar is like threatened. It's simply a reminder to all people in charge, Otmar being the top person in charge, but certainly not the only one. Otmar doesn't design the car, doesn't operate the car, he's the man who's orchestrating everything. So it was simply a reminder to them that they have objectives, and they're going to be assessed against those objectives. As simple as that. I was not going to let go of Otmar after having said that just after one race." 

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Could it be, maybe, that Rossi meant it for management as well?

"It was meant for also the management indeed," he admitted. "As well to understand that clearly the world out there has eyes on them, not just me. I was talking to my sponsors or investors and shareholders as much as on behalf of them. I was asked to put a diagnostic, I did it."

However, such statements can stir mixed emotions in different groups of people, and Rossi understands that. "I don't know, whatever it did, to be honest with you," he says. “I could see it's perceived very differently in different places. In the US it was well received, in France it was well received, in the UK, perhaps a bit less. It's okay, as long as it produces the effect. The team knows what I think of them. I've told them time and time again, I think highly of them.”

"In my interview mind you even said that I know what this team is capable of. They showed it last year. I was just disappointed. So really, it was a very simple message that anybody can read the standings could understand, because they were just asking me, why are we there? And is it satisfactory? And those are the reasons."

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