Former Alpine team principal Marcin Budkowski: “A team that deserves to have better management”

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It’s been a crazy weekend in the Formula One paddock with the news on Friday that Otmar Szafnauer and Alan Permane are leaving Alpine at the conclusion of the Belgian Grand Prix weekend.

Following the news, Alain Prost absolutely ripped into Laurent Rossi and Alpine in general when speaking to L’Equipe, describing their former CEO as inept.

“Laurent Rossi is the best example of the Dunning-Kruger effect, that of an inept manager who thinks he can overcome his incompetence with his arrogance and his lack of humanity towards his people.

“He was Alpine’s boss for 18 months and thought he understood everything from the outset, yet that couldn’t be further from the truth. His management stopped the momentum the team had built since 2016, achieving these podiums and that win.”

Former Alpine executive director/team principal Marcin Budkowski also discussed the situation that’s occurring at the Enstone-based squad right now when asked about it on Viaplay Poland.

In 2021, Esteban Ocon won the Hungarian Grand Prix under the leadership of Budkowski. It was the Enstone team’s first victory since the 2013 Australian Grand Prix with Kimi Räikkönen.

Photo credit: Alpine

The Pole admitted he spoke to Prost about what happened and that he generally agrees with what the 4-time F1 World Champion says. The two worked closely together before departing the team in January 2022.

“I will say in general that Alain and I often see things in a very similar way, so when Alain says something, I generally agree with that. I had a chat with Alain yesterday, just after I found out about the changes, so we talked yesterday morning. I read the article in the press with curiosity.”

Budkowski admits he’s sad about what’s going on at his former team, stating the staff deserve to be under better management.

“And frankly speaking, I am sad because this is a team that is still close to me, close to my heart, it is where I spent many years, where I still know many people and have contact with them. I think it’s a team that deserves better, it deserves better results and it also deserves to have better management.”

The 46-year-old was then asked how long he thinks it can take a midfield team to make a breakthrough and end the Red Bull/Mercedes/Ferrari monopoly that has been the main story at the front of Formula One since the beginning of this century.

Budkowski expanded on how Renault expected big results in spite of not delivering the necessary investment required to catch the top teams. He added the board doesn’t like hearing the honest truth from people such as himself or Szafnauer.

“It’s like the English say, ‘how long is a piece of string’? Because it’s a question that depends firstly on ambition and secondly on financial capabilities.

“Unfortunately, it’s not often talked about, but the main problem with Renault’s involvement in Formula 1 was that the ambitions were always very high and the financial means were not adequate.

“Every year there were higher and higher ambitions, and every year, unfortunately, the resources that were put into it were not…. let’s say were not at the level of those ambitions. But these are the things, let’s say… that people at the Renault board didn’t always want to hear.

“And when people like me or Otmar say that with these means only and with this approach it’s going to be difficult to do it [win] so quickly, people [at the board] simply don’t want to hear it.”

On the ‘mutual agreement’ itself, Budkowski believes Alpine’s statement is just worded that way to make it sound like Szafnauer agreed to it.

“I think the way of communicating the departure is just PR, it is a kind of elegant parting, to make it look elegant.

“Otmar is someone who has spent many years in different Formula 1 teams, who knows what it takes to win because he has been in some teams and seen what efforts are needed and how much money is spent by those teams that are winning, and how long it took. [Otmar’s] approach was probably not received positively at Renault.”

Alpine had a positive 2022 as they finished a strong P4 in the Constructors’ Championship. However, a big jump by Aston Martin over the winter and from McLaren over the last four races has seen them drop to 6th in the standings this campaign.

Budkowski believes that’s also played a role in this massive decision.

“But it also has to be said that probably Aston Martin’s results this year or McLaren’s results this year have also shown that it can be accelerated in a way, although you can see that Aston Martin is now falling back a little bit and McLaren has had some pluses and minuses, although it’s not a linear process.

“But yes, Aston’s and McLaren’s results have not helped the situation at Alpine.”