Renault CEO denies Alpine sale rumors: “we’re not in F1 to be tourists, we need to work hard”

Photo credits: Alpine F1 Team
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Not quite the best season for Alpine so far, who heads to Montreal having scored only 2 points – one for each driver – in the first 8 races of the year.

A rebranding in 2021 and all french line-up that never really got on well, the then Renault has not been having it easy in the Formula 1 world, so much that CEO Luca De Meo is finding himself having to deny rumors of an imminent sale.

“I want to make this very clear. There is no way we are going to give up,” said he stated in an exclusive interview with Autocar.

“It’s not my style. We will not sell even a part of this thing. We don’t need the money. I’ve had people making offers left and right, then talking in the press about it. But we’re not interested. It would be stupid and I won’t do it.”

A struggle that of Renault that began back in 2014 and from which they are yet to get up from.

“When we began the hybrid era, our engine didn’t perform,” he explained.

“We had been world champions with Red Bull but with hybrid, things went wrong. Even the engine we developed in 2021 had a 0.2sec to 0.5sec disadvantage every lap. And this year we’ve screwed up with the car. If you combine everything, we’re up to 1.5sec from where we need to be.”

The plan is “for this year and 2025” to “ try with the current set-up, then push to get things right for the next cycle,” in 2026 with the new regulations.

“That’s the challenge. But we will do everything necessary to be a competitive team.I expect a much better performance from the team,” he continued. 

“We are not here to be P16. We should be in the mix as often as possible. Sometimes you’re second, sometimes you’re fifth, but that should be our level.”

If for development there is still some wait the first changes are beginning with people, as many members of the staff are being substituted and Esteban Ocon announcing his departure  just this week.

Split between Enstone in England, where the team and technical side is based and Viry-Châtillon, in the suburbs of Paris, where the Renault engines are assembled, De Meo argues more investments are possible.

 “I’ve never said no to investment, but the thing is they need to bring good ideas.”

Back last year the Group had sold a share of the Oxfordshire facility to Redwing Capital Partners, in order to gain their business expertise to grow the F1 side. 

“These guys are experts at developing sports franchises. We’re car people – engineers and technicians – but they know how to take something like the Dallas Cowboys from a value of $1 billion to $8bn in just a few years. They know business and that’s why we need them.”     

Just one piece of the puzzle to build a solid base, as he believes what is needed to be successful in the F1 world are mainly three things:

“The firstly  a quality team of top-notch people. The second is racing rage, an obsession to win. The third is collaboration and trust throughout the team, a spirit of cooperation that makes things seem easier.”

“Alpine should be one of the teams in F1 with the broadest shoulders, because it has the backing of the Renault Group,” he remarked.

“I don’t think we deserve to be a top team at present, but we’re not in F1 to be tourists so we need to work hard.”

“Sure, we’ve made mistakes. It happens. But I think we’re right to put F1 at the core of Alpine, and to paint the car blue to represent a distinctive automotive culture.”