[Ocon: Tough love from de Meo address has fired up Alpine F1 team
Alpine targeted retaining fourth in the 2023 constructors’ standings while closing the gap to Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes. However, it has fallen to sixth behind Aston Martin and McLaren.
Team boss Otmar Szafnauer and long-time sporting director Alan Permane then departed, reportedly having disagreed with Renault’s top brass over how soon success could be delivered.
Alpine CEO Laurent Rossi was also moved aside to work on ‘special projects’ while team technical director Nick Chester has agreed on a Williams switch for 2024.
Alpine has also sounded out the support of other teams to see if it would be allowed performance breaks for its engine, which is believed to be as much as 30bhp behind rivals.
Against this backdrop, Renault boss de Meo visited the Enstone factory last week to address the whole workforce, with staffers from the Viry engine facility dialling in remotely.
Sources have told Motorsport.com that while de Meo delivered some home truths about where improvement was required, his speech has served to motivate the team.
Ocon backed this up. Speaking ahead of the Qatar Grand Prix, he explained: “I was having performance meetings on that day. Obviously, yes, I attended that speech of Luca.
“Luca came in to reaffirm and motivate everyone inside the factory. It was good that he visited us. He replied to a lot of questions as well from everyone.
Esteban Ocon, Alpine F1 Team, takes a selfie with a fan
Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images
“Of course, there’s things we that need to improve. We are on that way to be doing that and I’m sure that we are going to be able to achieve it in the future.”
For the Belgian GP sprint race, when Szafnauer and Permane’s incoming exits had been revealed, Pierre Gasly finished third. He also scored a podium in the Netherlands.
Along with Spa and Zandvoort, Alpine banked a double points finished in Japan, although this came amid a team orders spat with an enraged Gasly unexpectedly asked to move aside for Ocon on the penultimate lap.
Asked by Motorsport.com to explain why de Meo had waited until last week to address personnel, Ocon replied: “I think it’s always a good thing to see a boss coming into the factory, stepping in the doors and just motivating everyone.
“It’s a great thing showing that the plan with Formula 1 is completely within Alpine. That really shows how much he cares about the project. It’s always the right time.
“There’s no bad or good times, it’s always the right time.”