The Renault F1 team has committed to running in Formula One until at least 2025, but it’s going to be doing so under a whole new name. Starting in 2021, Renault will change its name to Alpine F1 and will race under a whole new set of colors.
Longstanding motorsport fans will recognize that name. Alpine is a French manufacturer known for its sportscars and racing machines, and it has close ties to Renault. A man named Jean Rédélé raced Renault 4CVs in the early 1950s, which encouraged him to start modifying the car. Racers always want their machines faster and lighter, and Rédélé was massively outspoken about his beliefs in the automotive industry. He was only 24 when Renault offered him control of a dealership in Dieppe, after all, and all that access to fast cars was a perfect introduction to the racing scene.
With the car already so drastically different, Rédélé decided to just found his own automaker, which he named Alpine after his success at the Coupes des Alpes hillclimb. The first car, called the Alpine A106, built on the 4CV’s mechanics to create a machine designed specifically for racing. Renault eventually bought Alpine in 1973.
The company had huge successes in motorsport across the board. Alpine took home wins at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Mille Miglia, and the notorious Monte Carlo Rally.
But Alpine has never properly entered F1. It developed Formula 3 open wheel cars driven by young French talents like Jean-Pierre Jabouille, Patrick Depailler, Didier Pironi, and Patrick Tambay. It also developed a test car for F1, but it never actually made it into the series.
The Alpine name faded from the performance car consciousness in the late 1980s and early 90s, but it’s seen a slow resurgence in recent years. Now, though, it’s facing an even bigger resurgence with its F1 debut.
The Renault name will remain on the engines, but Alpine is now the designer of the chassis. Instead of the yellow and black colors, it will be decked out in the French national colors of red, white, and blue.
And it’s not a coincidence that Alpine is entering in 2021: F1 will soon be introducing new regulations that, among other things, should regulate performance and provide a more equal playing field. From Renault team boss Cyril Abiteboul:
The new regulatory and financial framework will establish the conditions for a fairer motor sport in its redistribution of revenues; simpler and progressive in its governance.
The implementation of the ‘budget cap’ will put an end to the expense race and will allow the signatory teams to be measured for their sporting value. Alpine has its place in Formula 1 and can challenge for victory.
Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso will pilot the Alpine machines next year.