Renault to re-brand F1 team as Alpine for 2021
French firm will introduce sports car sub-brand to the highest level of motorsport as psrt of major promotional boost
The Renault F1 team will be rebranded as Alpine F1 for next season, as part of a major push for the performance sub-brand.
The French giant's F1 outfit, which is run from Enstone, Oxfordshire, will carry the name and colours of the revived sports car firm. The 1.6-litre hybrid powertrains will remain branded as Renault E-tech units, ensuring the car firm retains an identity in F1.
A promotional image released by Group Renault teases a car finished predominently in Alpine's signature blue, but with the rear of the car colours in red and white, likely to reflect the French flag. Double world champion Fernando Alonso has already signed to race for the team next year.
New Group Renault boss Luca de Meo said: "By introducing Alpine, a symbol of French excellent, to the most prestigious of the world's automotive disciplines, we are continuing the adventure of manufacturers in a renewed sport. We are bringing a dream brand alongside the biggest names, for spectacular car races made and followed by enthusiasts."
The Alpine F1 will continue to be headed by Cyril Abiteboul, who recentl took responsibility for the full Alpine brand as part of a major Group Renault reorganisation. He said that Alpine "brings a new meaning, new values and colours to the paddock", adding that the team would benefit from planned new technical rules and a cost cap being introduced for 2022.
He added: "Alpine has its place in Formula 1 and can challenge for victory."
Team bosses recently signed up to Formula 1's new Concorde Agreement, the document governing the sport that kicks in from 2022, tying Group Renault to remaining in the category. There had been some speculation Renault was considering the future of the team it owned, given its continuing struggles to match the likes of Mercedes-AMG and Red Bull-Honda.
Renault originally entered F1 in 1977, with its team helping pioneer the use of turbocharged engines. The original works team left F1 after 1985, with the firm remaining as an engine supplier the following year. It returned as an engine supplier in 1989, running naturally aspirated V10 engines and achieved championship success with both Williams and Benetton, eventually buying Benetton to run as a full works team for 2002.
The squad achieved back-to-back championships with Fernando Alonso in 2004 and 2005, but slipped down the order before he left, and the firm eventually sold the team in 2010 in the wake of the 'crashgate' scandal. It continued to supply engines, powering Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull to four consecutive titles from 2010 until 2013, but grew frustrated because it believed it wasn't getting the credit it deserved for its success.
That prompted it to buy back the Enstone-based squad to run as a works team in 2016, although it has since struggled to match the top teams.
The decision to switch the team to Alpine will put the squad up against sports car brands such as Ferrari and Aston Martin in 2021. It is also a significant move for the Alpine brand, which has only produced one car – the highly rated A110 – since it was revived by Group Renault. The future of Alpine has been up for debate for some time, with reports suggesting that the most likely approach is for it to become a performance figurehead for the firm, with the introduction of electrified and full electric models.
Given the investment required to compete in F1, using the Alpine name suggests that de Meo has big plans for the brand. Keeping the power units branded as Renault also helps firm up the links between the sub-brand and its parent firm.
In its original incarnation was best known for success in rallying with the A110. Since Renault revised the brand an Alpine-branded squad has run in the second-tier LMP2 sports car prototype class, competing at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
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