In 2020, Renault supplied power sources to two teams: its own works team and McLaren. The latter switched to Mercedes engines at the beginning of 2021 – after only three years of cooperation – leaving only the Renault works team, which now goes through life as Alpine. Renault boss Luca de Meo ruled out last year that Alpine would again bind a customer team in the near future, but Bruno Famin is now striking a completely different tone. The head of F1’s engine department says the door is always open for a customer team.
“It’s good to have a customer team. It’s always good for Alpine as a team to have comparison material,” says Famin. “The more kilometers we drive in the winter test, the more information we get and the more interesting it gets. That is of course also a limitation, but technically interesting.”
The chance that Alpine will be able to retain a customer team within a few years does not seem that great. The only real chance seems to be a new team entering Formula 1. For example, Michael Andretti has already expressed an interest and there has already been a commitment from Alpine and Renault to supply engines should Andretti Global actually enter F1 in 2024. At the same time, Famin emphasizes that the search for a customer team at Renault and Alpine is not the top priority.
“It’s not up to me. My priorities are different. It’s about making the engine development center in Viry even better,” he explains. “The guys have already done a good job with the 2022 engine and now we are working on the engine for 2023. We want to have the best engine, but not only that. We also want to have the best car. We’re also working more closely and better with the people of Enstone. However, the top priority is the development of the long-distance program Alpines LMDh-Auto, which is scheduled to start in 2024.