Alain Prost says Alpine CEO Laurent Rossi responsible for exit

Formula 1
Laurent Rossi with folded arms at a press conference

Alain Prost has blamed Alpine boss Laurent Rossi for his decision to leave his position as non-executive director of the Renault-owned team.

Four-time Formula 1 world champion Prost said he was cut out of decision-making last year and accused Rossi of “jealousy”.

“Laurent Rossi’s desire is to be alone, not to be polluted by anyone,” he said.

“He told me he no longer needed advice. There is a real desire to put a lot of people on the sidelines.”

Prost told French newspaper L’Equipe: “Laurent Rossi wants all the light.”

Alpine did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Prost’s remarks.

Prost, 66, joined Renault as a consultant when the company bought back the F1 team – based in Enstone, Oxfordshire – in 2015, and was appointed non-executive director of their F1 project in 2019.

The Frenchman drove for Renault in F1 from 1981-83, winning nine races and narrowly missing out on the world championship in 1983, and won his last world title in a Renault-engined Williams in 1993.

Prost said he was offered a new contract at the end of last season but refused it because of the way he had been treated through the year.

“It was a project in which I believed and in which I still believe,” said Prost, who described it as “an ambitious project which has restored incredible motivation at the level of the group”.

Alpine is the former Renault team, rebranded last year after the French car company’s niche sports-car brand.

The team suffered a dip in competitiveness overall last season, although Esteban Ocon did score their first win as a Renault-owned team since the 2008 Japanese Grand Prix with victory in Hungary.

Prost said: “The 2021 season was very disruptive for me, in that I felt that the old ones (at the team) had to go. I accept the change because we don’t have to do F1 always the same way. We can do it differently, and that is what throughout the last year has been done. But for me, it became too complicated.

“I was no longer involved in the decisions. Sometimes I did not even share in them at all but I had to continue to put out the official word.

“Even as a member of the board of directors, I discovered certain decisions at the last minute. One might not be able to be heard, but at least one should be warned in time. It’s a question of respect. Relations became more and more complicated. I felt that there was a lot of jealousy.

“What I don’t appreciate is the relationship and the lack of respect for people.

“When the team boss doesn’t even say hello to you when you arrive at the circuit, it’s because there’s no more fun. There isn’t even any respect anymore. And then it just can’t work.”

Alpine is going through a period of management upheaval before the new season.

Last week the team announced the departure of executive director Marcin Budkowski, the victim of a management reshuffle spearheaded by Rossi.

Former Aston Martin team principal Otmar Szafnauer is widely tipped to join as a replacement.

Alpine will this year use a new engine of a new design, which Renault Sport have been working on for two years.

Prost said the engine was having reliability problems, adding: “One has on the engine a little topic of reliability.”

The team are hoping for a step up in performance this year after finishing fifth for the past two seasons.

Prost said it was “hard to answer” whether Alpine could win in 2022.

He also revealed he had “come very close” to running for the presidency of governing body the FIA, but said that in the end it was “too late”.

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