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Cyril-Abiteboul hyundai verstappen-001

Exclusive: Alpine sell to Hyundai, Abiteboul to be boss wants Max

Cyril-Abiteboul hyundai verstappen-001

Having some fun on April 1st has become a GrandPrix247 tradition. As outlandish as these stories may be, F1 taught us never to rule out anything, hope you enjoyed our 2024 April Fool’s.

Alpine F1 Team is set to be sold to South Korean auto giant Hyundai who will enter Formula 1 in 2026 with former Renault team principal, Cyril Abiteboul reportedly leading the project with Max Verstappen in his sites.

The sensational news comes in the wake of a disappointing start to the season for thew Alpine team. French drivers Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly struggling with a cumbersome and overweight car which is down on power.

Add to that a long domino effect of key staff departing the team or being fired by Renault Group CEO Luca de Meo who appears to have the last say. Those departures began with Fernando Alonso ditching the team he won two F1 titles with for Aston Martin.

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Then Oscar Piastri and his management team shrewdly opted out of Alpine and defected to McLaren. Then a slew of senior staff firings – including team principal Otmar Sazfanauer who was told his time was up midway through the 2023 season.

Since then it has been a revolving door of advisors and senior figures departing the team. Thus with no end in sight, the Renault Group have decided to unload part of the project to Hyundai while building their engines, and hoping to supply the likes of Andretti when they get the nod to be in F1 and whatever team needs a PU.

It is understood that the Enstone factory will be where Hyundai sets up the chassis and aero shop, while Viry produces the F1 engines which will be badged with the H-logo.

Alpine F1 Team will transform into the Hyundai F1 Racing Team in 2026

Could Alpine F1 Team will transform into the Hyundai F1 Racing Team in 2026

In what is believed to be an extract from the announcement, Renault boss De Meo confirmed: “Alpine F1 Team will transform into the Hyundai F1 Racing Team in 2026. The Renault legacy in the top flight legacy will continue as F1-PU suppliers, first to this new project headed up by Cyril Abiteboul and Andretti Global when they get the final nod to be the 11th team.

“We will use the money from the Hyundai buyout, and invest to extract more power and reduce the weight of our power units which will then be badged according to customer demands.”

De Meo adds with refreshing honesty: “I take full responsibility for the deplorable state of the Alpine F1 Team. And the solution that we now have. I like many auto executives believed I could run an effective F1 team. I hired all the right advisors from F1 legend Alain Prost to MotoGP guru Davide Brivio, but I failed to ask for their advice.

“I preferred they shut up and look pretty for TV and media in our garage. I ignored them, thinking I knew better. I fired people left, right and centre under my watch thinking I knew better. Good people departed, long-serving Renault stalwarts were sent packing.

“Humbly I admit, I only realised later how difficult it is to hire good F1 talent and the time it takes with the gardening leave involved. People told me but I never listened. As I tried to move the Alpine F1 Team forward my way, I found out no one wanted to work for us anymore.

“I thus concede I underestimated what it takes for success in the sport that F1 is, and promise to stick to selling cars for Renault,” adds the as yet unconfirmed De Meo statement which will supposedly be released later today.

Big South Korean backing for Verstappen swoop to lead Hyundai F1 Project

Abiteboul: Of 20 drivers only one is talking about the engine | GRAND PRIX 247

Thus Hyundai Motorsport Team Principal and President, Abiteboul will lead the Formula 1 project, initially from the Enstone base before it moves to the Rally factory in Germany. Where building will commence for the Hyundai F1 Research, Design & Development Campus to cater for the project.

Funding for the project came after Abiteboul convinced Hyundai chiefs that F1 was the way forward for their motorsport programme, using his contacts at Renault to secure a sweet deal for both operations.

The 46-year-old Frenchman, whose role will be confirmed during the presentation later on 1 April, is bullish about the project which has attracted backing from an impressive portfolio of blue-chip North Korean companies, with Samsung in pole position to be the team’s title sponsor.

Abiteblould has been armed with a “war chest heaving with cash” to pry Max Verstappen away from Red Bull in what is believed to be a three-year deal worth $500-million with an option to extend for another two years for another $500-million, which could make the Dutch ace F1’s first billion-dollar man.

Also in Abiteboul’s budget is a similar amount to try and lure Adrian Newey from Red Bull, with not only cash as a lure but also offering the F1 design guru to design their top-of-the-range Supercar series set for release in 2030.

According to various sources, an announcement is expected today.

Big Question: Is it right that Alpine sells their F1 team to Hyundai?