Renault-owned Alpine are going through a period of ‘pain and trouble’ evidenced by high-level departures from the Formula One team, Williams boss James Vowles told reporters at the Belgian Grand Prix.
He was speaking after Williams, also former champions emerging from a tough period in their history, announced the hiring of Alpine’s chief technical officer Pat Fry to take on the same role.
“I’m not inside, but they’re clearly in a lot of pain and trouble and (going) through a conversion phase,” said Vowles, speaking as an observer.
“The bit I can really say is that Pat’s not a part of that change that they’re going through. Pat’s decision was made many, many months ago.”
Vowles said his first approach was made in January after starting in the job at Williams and he finally convinced Fry, who has had senior roles at McLaren and Ferrari, in April to make the move. He will start at Grove in November.
“He understandably had a journey with Alpine that he wanted to continue but actually by April he could see the vision as to why I had joined Williams and was very much in line and on board with that,” said Vowles.
He identified Fry as someone who knew how to empower and train up the next generation of engineers, and had the experience to put a structure in place for the long term.
On the same day Fry was announced by Williams, Alpine issued a statement saying that team boss Otmar Szafnauer and sporting director Alan Permane were leaving.
That follows a July 20 reorganisation with Alpine CEO Laurent Rossi moved to ‘special projects’ and Philippe Krief taking over at the top, with Bruno Famin handed responsibility for motorsport activities.
Szafnauer said only last weekend that he was confident Renault head Luca de Meo would give him time, with the team working to a 100 race plan.
Rossi had replaced Cyril Abiteboul as principal in January 2021, meaning Alpine have now had four team bosses in just over two and a half years in a sport where stability is a highly-prized quality.
Williams have also had four principals since 2020, when the founding family sold the team. They are currently seventh in the championship, with Alpine sixth.
Champions Red Bull, who have won 21 of the last 22 races and whose streak now extends to 12 in a row, have the sport’s longest-serving boss in Christian Horner who has held the position since 2005.