Renault remains committed to F1 “for eternity” by making the series the “backbone” of its Alpine brand, according to CEO Luca de Meo.
The Alpine name will make its official F1 debut this weekend at the Bahrain Grand Prix, led by drivers Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon.
The rebrand marked the latest big change for the Enstone-based squad, which has served on-and-off as Renault’s works F1 team over the years. It is now the only team to race with Renault power units after the manufacturer’s final customer, McLaren, switched to Mercedes engines after last season.
But de Meo - who took over as Renault CEO last July and has overseen the group’s ‘Renaulution’ - made abundantly clear that F1 remained a core part of its image moving forward despite the push to cut costs.
“For the commitment of Renault, it’s true that we went back and forth, but we have been always there, for 44 years, as an engine producer, or engine and chassis, with our brand,” de Meo told select media including Motorsport.com.
“I’m a car guy, so when I came to lead Renault, I said to myself, ‘I’m not going to be the one that is going to stop 44 years of history of Renault. I’m not going to be that guy’.
“So as long as I’m here, the people for Formula 1, they don’t have to worry. They only have to work to create a profitable business model, to win the races etc, and to have a good image for the company.
“But it is very clear, one of the messages from my side is that we are there, let’s say, for eternity, with Alpine in Formula 1. Because Formula 1 is the backbone of Alpine. It’s in the middle of the company.”
Alpine has outlined a plan to become a fully-electric performance road car brand in the future, with de Meo saying he sees the company as a mix of a “mini Ferrari” and a “mini Tesla”.
De Meo explained how he wanted F1 to be as significant to the Alpine brand as it is to Ferrari, despite the push for electrification on the automotive side.
“At Ferrari, you take the Gestione Sportiva out, and Ferrari is a different thing - it’s the same [for Alpine],” de Meo said.
“It’s a mini Ferrari, and with all the humility, I have to say, but it’s a mix of a mini Ferrari and a mini Tesla, because we’re going to propose electric cars to the consumer.
“We’re going to try to create a completely new customer experience, with the network, with the services etc. It’s a good opportunity to experiment.”