For the second straight year, Alpine features France’s Esteban Ocon (left) and Spain’s Fernando Alonso behind the wheel for the 2022 Formula 1 World Championship. (FRANCK FIFE/AFP via Getty Images)
STATS & ANALYSIS TECHNOLOGY

Boardroom’s Formula 1 Beginner’s Guide to Alpine

Get to know the Alpine F1 team, including drivers Fernando Alonso and Estaban Ocon — just remember not to call them Renault.

Alpine — the auto racing artists formerly known as Renault — has had a long and winding history over its 41 years in Formula 1. The story begins in the early 80s in the form of British-based Toleman, which was bought and rebranded by Italian fashion brand Benetton, who oversaw back-to-back Driver’s Championships in the mid-90s with the legendary Michael Schumacher behind the wheel. Renault first gained control of the team in 2000, winning Constructor’s and Driver’s Championships in 2005 and again in ’06 with Fernando Alonso.

Its nomadic existence as a brand continued in 2011 when Lotus Cars came aboard and the team name changed to Lotus Renault GP. Renault would eventually regain control, but decided to reinvent the outfit under the banner of its sportscar brand Alpine— pronounced “al-PEEN” as the French do— beginning at the start of the 2021 season.

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Alpine did decide to throw things back a little to celebrate the name change, replacing out-of-contract veteran Daniel Ricciardo with Alonso, pairing the Spanish champion with the incumbent French youngster Esteban Ocon. Ocon delivered Alpine’s only win in 2021 at the Hungarian Grand Prix, but it didn’t prevent the team from finishing a distant fifth in the Constructor’s standings, well behind McLaren and just 13 points clear of sixth-place AlphaTauri.

In the Driver’s Championship standings, Alpine paired its mediocre Constructors’ finish with a 10th-place finish for Ocon and 11th- for Alonso. Longtime Team Principal Cyril Abiteboul left prior to the Alpine rebrand and executive director Marcin Budkowski left prior to the 2022 campaign. Former Aston Martin exec Otmar Szafnauer is the new team principal tasked with bringing the glory days back.

Let’s get to know the Alpine team better.

History of Alpine in Formula 1

Founded: 1981
Previously known as: Toleman Motorsport, Benetton, Renault F1 Team, Lotus F1 Team, Renault Sport Formula 1 Team
Headquarters: Enstone, England & Viry-Châtillon, France
Owner: Groupe Renault
Key sponsors: BWT, Bell & Ross, Binance, Boeing, BP, Castrol, Delphi Technologies, DuPont, Genii, Mandiant, Mapfre, Microsoft, Sprinklr

Toleman, known at the time for Formula Ford and Formula 2 car racing as well as boat racing, announced its entry into Formula 1 for the 1981 campaign as Toleman Motorsport. The outfit was bought by Italian fashion brand Benetton five years later and rebranded as such, and managed to recruit a rising superstar driver named Michael Schumacher to the team for the tail end of the 1991 season.

In 1994 and ’95, his last two years with Benetton before departing for an iconic run with Ferrari, Schumacher won the first two of what would eventually be seven F1 Driver’s Championships.

At the turn of the millennium, Renault bought the organization, renaming it Renault F1 Team, with Alonso winning back-to-back world championships under its banner in 2005 and ’06. A temporary rebrand as Lotus F1 Team was in effect when investment management firm Genii Capital owned a controlling interest in the team from 2012 through 2015 before Groupe Renault regained control. This also marked the return of Abiteboul, the organization’s former deputy managing director, as team principal. They’d finish as high as fourth in the Constructor’s Championship during his tenure.

Starting with the 2021 season, which also marked Abiteboul’s departure in favor of Szafnauer, the Alpine era had arrived. With Alonso rejoining the family via McLaren, Alpine finished fifth in the Constructor’s Championship race in 2021.

2022 Alpine F1 Drivers

Fernando Alonso
  • No. 14 car
  • Two-time Formula 1 world champion (2005, ’05)
  • 32 F1 wins rank No. 6 all-time

No matter what, Fernando Alonso is sticking to El Plan, a phenomenon that’s lives somewhere between internet meme and a very real strategy for success. He’s one of just 16 men ever to win the Driver’s Championship more than once. He’s the only champ representing the Spanish flag.

And while he may now be on the other side of 40, he’s still the third-youngest world champion in F1 history — his 2005 title occurred when he was exactly 15 days younger than Max Verstappen was in 2021.

Esteban Ocon
  • No. 31 car
  • Claimed first F1 win at 2021 Hungarian GP, also his team’s first victory since rebranding as Alpine
  • Personal-best 12 consecutive points finishes in 2017 with Force India

A former Mercedes prospect who cut his teeth in F1 with Force India/Racing Point, Ocon joined the Renault family in 2020 one year before the Alpine rebrand. He’s got just two podiums to his name — one each in 2020 and ’21 — but he’s stayed in the points to start the 2022 campaign thanks to three straight top-seven finishes.

Alpine’s F1 Championships & Milestones

Numbers reflect results through the 2022 Australian Grand Prix.

As Renault (until 2021):

Constructor’s Championships: 2 (2005, ’06)
Driver’s Championships: 2 (2005, ’06)

All-time Formula 1 wins: 35
F1 podiums: 103
F1 poles: 51
F1 fastest laps: 33

As Alpine (since 2021):

Constructor’s Championships: 0
Driver’s Championships: 0

All-time Formula 1 wins: 1
F1 podiums: 2
F1 poles: 0
F1 fastest laps: 0

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