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McLaren's “three-pillared” F1 technical structure inspired Alpine changes

Alpine Formula 1 team principal Bruno Famin says that the Enstone outfit’s “three-pillared” technical restructuring was in part inspired by a similar exercise undertaken by McLaren last year.

Bruno Famin, Team Principal, Alpine F1 Team

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Alpine announced on Monday that it will henceforth have three technical directors, with responsibilities shared by Joe Burnell (engineering), David Wheater (aerodynamics) and Ciaron Pilbeam (performance), all reporting to Famin.

The changes, which come in the wake of the resignations of technical director Matt Harman and aerodynamics head Dirk de Beer, mirror those made by McLaren when its technical director James Key departed for Sauber in early 2023.

The Woking team created a new horizontal structure headed by three technical directors, namely Peter Prodromou (aerodynamics), David Sanchez (car concept and performance) and Neil Houldey (engineering and design).

Although Sanchez wasn’t able to start until early 2024 the changes coincided with the Woking team’s surge in form as it successfully developed the MCL60.

Famin admits that Alpine looked at the McLaren example when trying to find a way forward.

“For sure, we have seen that,” he told Autosport. “It gave us the answer to the question if it may work, and it looks like it's working.

“I'm not saying it will make everything of course, but we have seen with McLaren that this kind of this kind of organisation can give a boost. And this is what we're looking for.

“I think a very vertical structure is less reactive, less adapted to modern F1, where everything is so complex. You just need everybody to move forward all together in parallel, of course, constantly exchanging information and communication.”

Esteban Ocon, Alpine A524, Pierre Gasly, Alpine A524

Esteban Ocon, Alpine A524, Pierre Gasly, Alpine A524

Photo by: Alpine

Famin says that the team’s poor form in Bahrain testing and the season-opening race was not the driver for the shake-up, which had been under discussion for some time.

“The timeline of the changes has nothing to do with the performance of the weekend,” he said.

“There is no link between our performance and Matt and Dirk's departure. The real thing is that we have been thinking about how to move to the next step in the Alpine project.

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“For quite some time now. and even when it was Renault before, we are making one step forward, one step backward, two steps forward, one backward, etcetera.

“We are not really generating the dynamic of progress that we want to have. And then we thought that it was time to change our approach from the technical point of view, and that's the real reason for the changes.”

Famin says that the team has to demonstrate consistent improvement over the coming seasons.

“The dynamic I'm talking about is we want to be on the trajectory of progress from year to year,” he said. “Of course, with ups and downs, we know that it's not so easy in F1.

“I'm talking about the multi-year dynamic, where we may be constantly closer and closer to the top, which is our aim to be able, in the medium term, to fight for wins.

Bruno Famin, Team Principal, Alpine F1 Team

Bruno Famin, Team Principal, Alpine F1 Team

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

“And not to be one year fourth in the championship, second year sixth. We really need to be able to develop a team able to fight for the top three."

Famin says that the changes are a “signal” to everyone in the Alpine camp that action is being taken to move the team forward.

“When you are discussing with people, you have to be on the same line of what we want to do, and on how to do it,” he noted.

“And we talked a lot about many things, of course, and how we need to have a common understanding of what to do. Not doing the same thing, always with the same people, will change our final result, to say it like that.

“We need to change the processes, we need to change some people, to send a signal that we are entering into the new phases of the project.

“Having the three technical directions specialised in performance, engineering and aero is for us the way of exploiting or using more the potential of all the guys.

“It's giving a signal to all the technical crews and people developing the car, racing the car, developing the tools in simulation, the simulator and so on that everybody's walking in parallel for a common goal.”

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