WEC - Interviews Alpine with Krief, Famin and Sinault
Initiated in early 2012, Alpine's revival was accompanied the following year by an endurance racing programme to prepare for the launch of the new A110, faithful to the timeless principles cherished by Jean Rédélé.
The technical, sporting and logistical aspects were entrusted to the Signatech team. This partnership has since been expanded to the entire Signature Group, with the design and marketing of the Alpine A110 Cup, GT4, Rally and Pikes Peak, as well as the organisation of the Alpine Elf Europa Cup and the Alpine Elf Rally Trophy.
The history of the Signature Group was initially tied to Formula 3, in which it won several national and international titles and through which it made key contributions to the careers of some notable drivers, including Benoit Tréluyer, Loïc Duval, Nicolas Lapierre, Romain Grosjean, Edoardo Mortara and Alex Albon.
A substantial shift was made in 2009, when the team first competed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The structure was entrusted to operate the Endurance programme in 2013, designed to develop to relaunch the Alpine brand on the automotive scene. Alpine won the European title in its maiden campaign and repeated the feat the following year. Victories in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2016, 2018 and 2019 followed, as did two world crowns in the 2016 and 2018-2019 seasons.
This unique experience and savoir faire is now fully and completely committed to Alpine Endurance Team.
Team Principal Philippe Sinault
Operations manager Thomas Tribotté
Chief Engineer #35 Christophe Boittin
Chief Engineer #36 Antoine Voyet
Born in 1965, Philippe Krief graduated from the Ecole Nationale Supérieure de Techniques Avancées in Paris.
As a car enthusiast and chassis specialist with over 35 years’ experience in the industry as an engineer and then engineering director, Philippe Krief has developed unrivalled know-how and expertise in the development of ports and premium car lines.
He began his career as an engineer at Michelin, where he worked for over 10 years. He then joined the FIAT group from 1998 to 2011, where he was responsible for Chassis and Vehicle Dynamics.
Philippe Krief continued his career at Ferrari and then Maserati, as Vehicle Department Director and Technical Director of the Alfa Romeo brand respectively, overseeing the development of the Alfa Romeo Giulia and Stelvio, as well as the Ferrari 458 Sepcial. Upon his return to Ferrari, he became Engineering Director and Head of R&D.
Philippe Krief was appointed CEO of the Alpine brand on 20 July 2023, having joined the brand a few months earlier as Director of Engineering and Product Performance.
How does the road car range benefit from Alpine's involvement in the FIA WEC?
Since 2013, Alpine has had a continuous presence in endurance racing, a discipline which shares our values, and in the FIA Endurance World Championship since 2015. We have never stopped believing in the virtues of endurance racing. It is now entering a new golden era. Most of the industry's leading manufacturers are making no mistakes. Nine elite brands are competing at the highest level, on a technological platform that puts to the test prototypes, which are tremendously refined and close to the styling cues of the production cars. The public also feels this attractiveness. This season, the eight rounds will cover almost every continent, and the 24 Hours of Le Mans attracted a record 325,000 spectators last year. Just as our involvement in F1 paved the way for powerful brand exposure, we are sure that endurance racing offers enormous potential and an opportunity to seek new ideas and synergies.
How important are the Hypercar's styling regulations to the Alpine brand?
One of the crucial aspects of these regulations is that they allow us to have our racing prototype foreshadowing some features of our future road cars. We were able to take full advantage of this thanks to our Design Department teams. Our vision was to have a highly efficient, uncluttered and purified bodywork. These elements are rooted in Alpine's DNA and resonate in some of the inspiration drawn from Alpenglow and the work done on the A110 and the Alpines from our 'Dream Garage'. The most striking feature is probably the lighting signature. It conveys a powerful message specific to our world, with the four lights at the front and the reinterpretation of the two arrowed As at the rear.
What are the team's objectives in this year's FIA World Endurance Championship?
We aim to improve our performance gradually throughout the season. We are returning to the premier class after an intense year of development and competition. Some competitors will have the advantage of prior experience and we must join that group as quickly as possible. We all strive for an upward trajectory, but we don't underestimate the magnitude of the task. We must be reliable, consistent and efficient to score maximum points and optimise our package. Alpine has always forged its legend in opposition and adversity. And I know that our team has done a tremendous job in its preparation. We all now look forward to seeing the A424 make its debut.
VP Alpine Motorsports
The Frenchman began his time in motorsport with Peugeot in 1989, working with Peugeot Talbot Sport on engines and gearboxes. He personally worked on several vehicle projects such as the 905 Spider and the 106 Group A.
In 2005, Bruno was made Technical Director of Peugeot Sport and by 2012, he took over as Director of the company. He played a seminal role in the Le Mans winning 908 project and the record-breaking Pikes Peak victory in 2013 at the hands of Sebastien Loeb. Bruno was also at the helm of three Dakar Rally victories between 2016 and 2018 as well the 2015 World Rallycross Championship win.
By 2019, Bruno became Director of Operations for the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA). His main role was to manage the integration of all of the Federation’s sporting and supporting functions.
Bruno joined BWT Alpine F1 Team prior to the start of the 2022 FIA Formula 1 World Championship season. He is responsible for the development of the Power Unit, working closely with Enstone to optimise its performance within the chassis package.
In July 2023, Alpine announced the appointment of Bruno Famin as VP, Alpine Motorsports and member of Alpine Management Committee, reporting directly to Philippe Krief, Alpine CEO. In this position, Bruno Famin leads Alpine’s activities across all motorsport disciplines. He is also Team Principal for BWT Alpine F1 Team.
What can you tell us about the Alpine A424?
It is fantastic to return to the premier class of endurance racing with an aesthetically and technically advanced prototype, and we can't wait to see our two A424s battle on track. The entire team has done an enormous amount of work during the genesis and development of this project. We have come a long way since the first runs in August 2023. The A424 has completed more than 15,000 kilometres with no significant problems disrupting our programme, but now only the verdict on the track matters. Everyone involved is doing their utmost to ensure we are as ready as possible for Qatar, but we will approach the first race with the utmost humility.
How did the different key actors work together to prepare for this season?
We had invaluable expertise at every level, from the development of the power unit to energy management and the impact of the hybrid system on the car's performance and track operations. The aim was to create a genuine osmosis, and it was pleasing to see the different people involved forming a single team. As a result, we were able to work extremely hard to develop this new generation of prototypes in an extremely short time. Lastly, we were eager to recruit drivers who are not only fast and reliable but also demonstrate team spirit and excellent race craft to best represent the Alpine brand. We are absolutely delighted to have these seven drivers with us, and we are counting on each of them to bring their individual qualities to the project, be it their youth, their expertise or their very high-level experience.
What will be the main challenges of this first campaign?
The development period let us refine our package and improve in all aspects with the team that will work on the programme. Despite this, the competition remains the ultimate benchmark. We will have to capitalise on our respective experiences to make incremental progress in all areas and perfect our knowledge and tyre management. But also display a sound level of reliability, a crucial aspect in Endurance racing should we need reminding.
Team Principal Alpine Endurance Team
Born a few hours after the legendary finish of the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans, Phillipe Sinault's destiny was quickly linked to motorsport.
Philippe was a driver in single-seater feeder series and graduated from Bordeaux University with a degree in communications before discovering his gift for developing programmes with the support of recognised partners. In 1990, he founded Groupe Signature with his business partner Jean-Pierre Tallan, joined by Lionel Chevalier. The company's competition division soon enjoyed success and titles on the national and international scenes while also making a vital contribution to the careers of several well-known drivers.
In 2009, Philippe took Signatech into endurance racing, with a first appearance in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. After a promising start with Aston Martin and an Intercontinental Le Mans Cup crown with Nissan in 2011, Alpine entrusted him with responsibility for the programme to develop the brand's reputation. Philippe led this project, immediately winning European Le Mans Series titles in 2013 and 2014, followed by three victories in the 24 Hours of Le Mans (2016, 2018 and 2019) and two world titles (2016 and 2018-2019).
With several successful decades in motorsport behind him, Philippe Sinault is contributing his qualities as a leader of men to Alpine's ambitions at Endurance racing's highest level.
As you prepare to start the season in Qatar, what are your thoughts on the Alpine A424?
I feel it’s got enormous potential and I believe we have made the right choices. It should allow us to show what we can do. We were fully involved from the start of the project. We had the opportunity to participate in the interrogations, the doubts, the arbitrations and the decisions to better understand the package available to us. That translated into development, where we grasped and integrated the operational aspects all the more quickly, saving us all a tremendous amount of time.
Do you look forward to working with your two newly-formed trios this year?
Our driver line-ups perfectly reflect our desire for alchemy and our consideration of the human being as one of the essential elements and one of the keys to the project's success. We haven't made any compromises, and our first draft of the line-up has now come to fruition. Speaking with Bruno Famin on the subject was a pleasure as we agreed immediately. They're all tremendously high-quality drivers with experience and high levels of commitment and expectations. I think we've made the right choices, and I have confidence in this team, which for us is ideal to write this new chapter for Alpine in Hypercar. There's an appealing complementarity between loyal, well-known and unifying drivers and others who have surprised us in recent years. As a French team, we're also delighted to have several French drivers on board. We are now complete and can’t wait to entrust them with our beautiful A424s.
Have you set any targets for this learning season?
We must be humble but ambitious. We must be humble as we are going through considerable changes and taking a huge step forward as a team. We must learn to fully harness this technical package, be reliable and finish the races. However, with our potential, we must be ambitious as we represent the Alpine name at the highest level. I think it's difficult to say whether we can win this year, but we'll soon be hungry for good results with everything Alpine Endurance Team has put in place.