Davide Brivio’s decision to make the switch from MotoGP to Formula 1 during the off-season came out of left field, but Alpine have certainly hired someone who knows how to win.
One of the most successful team managers in MotoGP history, the Italian will be hoping to add something new as Alpine look to push forward after a few years of steady progress as Renault.
With Fernando Alonso, they have a genuine star behind the wheel, while Esteban Ocon is a raw talent who is perhaps yet to show his true form with the Enstone team.
Speaking at the launch of the Alpine A521 on Tuesday, Brivio answered questions from the assembled media over Zoom.
How do you see Alonso and does he have a chance of winning this season?
Brivio: “Yes, of course, I’m very excited to see Fernando, and we have a guy who is a great champion. I can feel that Fernando is extremely motivated. Fernando is coming back into a difficult moment in the sport, and it is also a difficult environment, while he was enjoying other activities. His desire is to be back, so I’m sure he will put all of his efforts, and if it will be capable to give him a good package, for sure he will be able to fight for the great positions.”
What are your first feelings in the new team and is it difficult to deal with such a driver like Alonso?
Brivio: “No, I don’t think so. We had just some first chats, and I feel like a very normal guy, just extremely motivated, extremely willing to find and put together everything that is necessary to get the best out of the car, the best out of the team. He’s coming back, and he’s not coming back just to drive a car. He’s coming back to get good results, to get some satisfaction, and yeah, he’s quite demanding, but that’s what I like. We need this type of driver that really is keen to put everything together to try the maximum, so I welcome this type of attitude, this type of approach, and of course, we will have to try to work together as best possible in order to use his abilities and his potential.”
Will Lundgaard have any role with the team this year?
Brivio: “Christian is one of our very good drivers in our academy, we’re very proud of the job of the academy, of all the young guys we are growing up, and Christian will have some role, yes. He will work on the simulation, and in the simulator, and during the season. His main target is to get the best possible results in F2, but we’re keeping an eye on him, we’re following him very closely, and yes, he’s one of the guys that we have good expectations, so we will try to use him in the sim. He already tested last month in Paul Ricard, and we will try to involve as much as possible in our programme. He’s a part of our family, so we will try to do our best to exploit his potential.”
What was it about the Alpine F1 project that made you leave Suzuki’s MotoGP squad and how excited are you for the new challenge?
Brivio: “Of course, it was not easy to leave my old team, an environment which I knew very well. Formula 1 has been for me a dream for a long time, and it’s very exciting for me to start something completely new, and to get into a new environment. Of course I have a lot to learn, I have a lot to understand, but it’s adrenaline for me, it’s oxygen, to get to work and to learn a lot of things. It was an opportunity which I felt I had to take, probably I would have regretted it if I would not have taken it. So now here I am, and I will try to do my best, and I hope I can contribute something to the Alpine Formula 1 team with my experience. It won’t be easy, I need some time, but I’m fully committed to try and get involved as best as possible.”
What will your role be during the race weekend?
Brivio: “Basically I will be in charge of the track operations, track activities, so everything happens on the circuit. Basically our job as a race team is to exploit the full potential of the car. In Enstone, there is a lot of people, actually there is a big pressure and big responsibility because we have over 1,000 people between Enstone and Viry preparing the chassis, the car, the power unit, and our job, we will be a much limited number of people at the race track, but there is where we have to extract the full potential of the car. So I will be in charge of that. And of course, I’m not an engineer, but I have to try to make sure engineers, mechanics, the drivers, all the people involved, they have all they need to perform at the very best. In this way, if we are able to have a strong team, which is already in place, we will be able to extract the full potential of the car. So that’s the job, the job is to go to the circuit, go around the world, and try to get the best out of what more than 1,000 people have prepared at home. So, we have a big responsibility and big pressure, because we have to give a value to their job.”
Luca de Meo said he wants to win – is the team ready to fight for wins with Mercedes and Red Bull, or is the podium more realistic?
Brivio: “Of course, we want to win, everybody wants to win, everybody in the team wants to win. We have to be realistic. Last year, we did three podiums, so we started to get close to the top position, and that’s where we have to start from. So, first of all, we have to be fighting for the podium, hopefully regularly fighting for the podium, and then step by step, go close to the best possible position. Of course, the final target is to win. Probably, we have a route to get there. We have a road to achieve this target, but that’s what we’re ready to do. Of course, this year is a kind of a special year, because everybody is looking at 2022, the new regulations, the new cars which are under development. So, this is the kind of preparation year where we hope in 2022 to improve even more our competitiveness. But the winning is always our target, and I’m sure our drivers want to get there. So yes, that’s the target, because you need to get the target, you need to get a dream, and then you have to work from where you are to achieve it.”
A lot of your management skills transfer from MotoGP to F1, do you think it would be easier or harder for an F1 boss going to MotoGP?
Brivio: “I don’t know. I will tell you maybe in one year’s time. But, in this moment, I think it’s probably harder from MotoGP to go to Formula 1, because Formula 1 is a bigger organisation, it’s more complex and there are many more people. So that is good news for me. So let’s see. I feel a lot of similarities, because teamwork, drivers, they are similar in attitude to the riders, and it’s probably much more complex in terms of technicality, so many more parameters, more problems, aerodynamics, which you don’t have, but this is a technical job. In terms of putting the team together, trying to strengthen the group, I think there are similarities. But yeah, there is no doubt that Formula 1 is more complex than MotoGP. But they both have similarities I think.”