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Alpine make team changes after difficult Bahrain GP

Alpine have made a series of team changes following a difficult Bahrain Grand Prix, where Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon were well off the pace.

Technical director Matt Harman and head of aerodynamics Dirk de Beer have both resigned from their positions after Ocon finished 17th and Gasly 18th in F1’s season-opener.

In response, Alpine have created three specialised technical roles to replace the previous structure of a singular technical director.

Joe Burnell will be technical director (engineering), David Wheater is now technical director (aerodynamics) and Ciaron Pilbeam has become technical director (performance).

Alpine’s power unit team in Viry is led by Eric Meignan, who continues to work on the new 2026 power unit regulations.

The team also confirmed the start of the tenures of chief operating officers John Woods at the British base in Enstone and Audrey Vastroux at Viry to continue the development of the factories behind the Formula 1 project.

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The wheel-brow on the right front of Gasly’s car breaks during the final day of testing in Bahrain

“We have decided to make these organisational changes as we can clearly see that we are not where we want nor need to be in terms of performance level and it is time to take another step in terms of organisation and people,” said team principal Bruno Famin.

“The new three-pillared structure with three technical directors, each specialising in different areas, will bring better work and collaboration across our technical areas and contribute to delivering performance from the factories to the race track.

“I trust fully in the abilities of Joe, David and Ciaron to work closely together in bringing the team the performance and improvements that it needs. Finally, I would like to thank Matt and Dirk for their efforts over the last couple of years at the team and wish them the very best in the next chapter of their careers.”

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Ted Kravitz is in the paddock to review all the biggest stories from the Bahrain Grand Prix

Major worry at Alpine

The past 12 months have been tricky for Alpine, as they were left in a lonesome midfield wilderness last year having been leapfrogged by McLaren and Aston Martin.

Alpine finished the 2023 season in sixth, 160 points behind fifth-placed Aston Martin and 92 points ahead of seventh-placed Williams.

Their unexpected fall away from challenging towards the front of the grid resulted in a mid-season culling of senior leadership as chief executive Laurent Rossi was replaced, before team principal Otmar Szafnauer and sporting director Alan Permane were sacked in the summer.

While Famin, initially inserted as interim team principal, will remain at the helm of the Enstone outfit, instability at the top is not Alpine’s only concern as their on-track performance in Bahrain will be a big worry.

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Highlights of the F1 2024 season opener at the Bahrain Grand Prix

“It has not been the weekend we wanted. Most importantly we had a clean race and collected valuable data that we can take into the race in Jeddah,” said Ocon, whose contract runs out at the end of this year, as does team-mate Pierre Gasly’s.

“It will be interesting to see how we fare on different layouts and in different conditions. We’ll dig in and put our heads together during the short break between races and see where we can improve.

“We have to stay focused, stay positive and keep going in the right direction. Collectively as a team we have to keep our heads up and foot down going to Saudi Arabia.”

Sky Sports F1’s live Saudi Arabian GP schedule

Wednesday March 6

  • 2.30pm: Drivers’ Press Conference

Thursday March 7

  • 9.50am: F2 Practice
  • 10.50am: F1 Academy Practice
  • 1pm: Saudi Arabian GP Practice One (session starts at 1.30pm)
  • 2.55pm: F2 Qualifying
  • 4.45pm: Saudi Arabian GP Practice Two (session starts at 5pm)
  • 6.15pm: F1 Academy Qualifying
  • 7.15pm: The F1 Show

Friday March 8

  • 11.55am: F1 Academy Race 1
  • 1.10pm: Saudi Arabian GP Practice Three (session starts at 1.30pm)
  • 3.05pm: F2 Sprint Race
  • 4.10pm: Saudi Arabian GP Qualifying build-up
  • 5pm: SAUDI ARABIAN GP QUALIFYING

Saturday March 9

  • 12pm: F1 Academy Race 2
  • 1.20pm: F2 Feature Race
  • 3.30pm: Saudi Arabian GP build-up: Grand Prix Saturday
  • 5pm: THE SAUDI ARABIAN GRAND PRIX
  • 7pm: Saudi Arabian GP reaction: Chequered flag
  • 9.30pm: Saudi Arabian GP highlights

Watch the second round of the new F1 season – the Saudi Arabian GP – live on Sky Sports F1 this coming week, with practice on Thursday, qualifying on Friday and the race at 5pm on Saturday. Stream every F1 race and more with a NOW Sports Month Membership for just £21 a month for 12 months

Anthony Joshua’s heavyweight showdown with Francis Ngannou takes place on Friday March 8, live on Sky Sports Box Office with the main event expected around 11pm. Book Joshua vs Ngannou now!

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