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Enstone veteran Bell leaves advisory role with Alpine F1 team

Veteran Formula 1 engineer Bob Bell has ended a long association with the Alpine outfit that included a brief spell as Enstone team principal in 2009.

Bob Bell, Chief Technical Officer, Renault Sport F1

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

Bell enjoyed three separate stints with the team through its Benetton and Renault eras, starting in 1997.

He took a step back to an advisory role in 2018 and subsequently – like several technical veterans at other teams – he moved away from an F1 involvement to work part-time for Alpine Labs, an organisation founded to explore the use of racing technology in other fields.

Although no longer directly involved with F1 activities Bell remained something of a talismanic figure in the camp, and was a tangible link to past successes.

His daughter Katy works for the team as an electronics systems engineer, attending some races.

Ulsterman Bell first made his name as an aerodynamicist at McLaren from 1982 and then in the Ayrton Senna era, and was part of the team that designed the dominant MP4/4 of 1988.

He moved to Benetton in 1997, before heading to Jordan for a spell as head of vehicle dynamics – including the 1999 season when the team finished third in the world championship – before returning to Enstone and the renamed Renault team in 2001.

He was technical director during Fernando Alonso’s successful title campaigns in 2005 and 2006.

Fernando Alonso, Michael Schumacher, Jenson Button and Bob Bell

Fernando Alonso, Michael Schumacher, Jenson Button and Bob Bell

Photo by: Charles Coates / Motorsport Images

After the Singapore GP ‘crashgate’ controversy and the departure of Flavio Briatore he briefly held the reins as team principal in 2009 and served as managing director in 2010.

He then spent three years as technical director of Mercedes, playing a key role in the development of the hugely successful W05 of 2014, before leaving the team.

After a brief spell at Marussia he returned to Renault in 2016 as chief technical officer, before stepping into an advisory role two years later.

Although not connected, Bell's departure comes in the wake of a run of changes at Alpine that has seen the split of several key players.

Last summer team principal Otmar Szafnauer and veteran sporting director Alan Permane were both ousted as part of a shake-up instigated by Bruno Famin, who subsequently took over as team boss.

At the same time chief technical officer Pat Fry decided to quit the team to take on a similar role at Williams.

Esteban Ocon, Alpine A524, Pierre Gasly, Alpine A524

Esteban Ocon, Alpine A524, Pierre Gasly, Alpine A524

Photo by: Alpine

Over the Bahrain GP weekend it emerged that technical director Matt Harman and head of aerodynamics Dirk de Beer had tendered their resignations.

On Monday the team announced a new “three-pillared” structure, with Joe Burnell as technical director (engineering), David Wheater becoming technical director (aerodynamics) and Ciaron Pilbeam promoted to technical director (performance).

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