Aston Martin spark ‘reality check’ for rival team

Aston Martin have benefitted massively from signing Fernando Alonso, who replaced Sebastian Vettel at the start of 2023.

Alpine team principal Laurent Rossi has candidly admitted that Aston Martin’s progress this season has served as a reality check for his Formula One outfit. 

Alpine, aiming to secure fourth place in the championship standings with a reduced gap to the leading trio of Red Bull, Mercedes, and Ferrari, currently finds itself in fifth place after eight races, trailing Aston Martin by a substantial 110 points.

Reflecting on Aston Martin’s advancements, Rossi acknowledged the impact it had on other teams, stating: “I think it was a reality check for Mercedes, Ferrari, us. 

“As in s***, we were comfortable thinking that we were on the rise and everybody else was, and then suddenly there is a guy leapfrogging all of us.”

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Rossi recognised the significance of Aston Martin’s high-profile signings, including the acquisition of Fernando Alonso from Alpine, as well as key technical personnel from Red Bull and Mercedes. 

While acknowledging the talent brought in by Aston Martin, Rossi emphasised the importance of Alpine leveraging its own strengths as a works team with an in-house engine supply.

“They certainly hired bright people who have been working in high responsibility positions at both Red Bull and Mercedes,” Rossi commented. 

“They have made very good work at creating the perfect hybrid system of both, and there is no surprise they are faster than Mercedes and slower than Red Bull because they are a hybrid of the two. 

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“They have done a great job, hats off. But we need to try and emulate that, not by hiring people from Red Bull, although we can, we are not going to copy anything because we do not have the same set of constraints, but by trying to extract more from our package and the fact that we are a works team.”

Recognising the need for a change in mindset, Rossi emphasised that breaking away from the midfield pack requires embracing uncomfortable situations and taking risks. 

He highlighted the necessity of challenging norms and barriers to achieve progress in the highly competitive Formula One industry.

In a recent announcement, Alpine revealed fresh investment in its F1 team, with a group of investors, including Hollywood actors Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney, injecting $218.1 million for a 24% equity stake. 

Rossi stated that part of the investment would be used to pay off debt owed to the team’s parent company, Group Renault, while also funding improvements to the factory. 

The objective is to position Alpine as a front-running team by the start of the next set of regulations in 2026.

Rossi expressed his optimism about the new investment and the involvement of RedBird Capital Partners and Otro Capital, both bringing expertise and support to areas beyond the track. 

The inclusion of Reynolds’ Maximum Effort Investments is expected to enhance the brand’s visibility and generate additional revenue through sponsorship, merchandising, licensing, and hospitality.

Regarding the new investors, Rossi explained: “We are looking at RedBird and Otro as our main stakeholders and now we have them. 

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“That’s something that we are not very good at – all of us in Formula One, perhaps with the exception of one or two like Red Bull. 

“So, [the new investors will help with] revenue, meaning sponsorship, merchandising, licensing, and hospitality – the things that we don’t really do so well. 

“Along the way, we were thinking about how you add visibility, incremental visibility, and these guys, Maximum Effort and Ryan Reynolds, they also do that.”