Although the Alpine name is new to the Formula 1 grid this year, the history of this iconic French car firm has been long associated with Renault – the manufacturer that has its roots in the very dawn of motor sport.
The first-ever event to be given the title ‘Grand Prix’ (the French for Big Prize) was held on roads near the town of Le Mans in France in 1906. That race was won by a Renault.
In those early days, cars were painted in colours representing their nations. For example, German cars like Mercedes were silver, the British cars green, Italian teams including Alfa Romeo or Ferrari were red, while French [I]équipes were blue. Many of the cars that race in Formula 1 to this day continue this tradition and Alpine patriotically compete in French Racing Blue colours.
Throughout the history of motor sport, Renault has either built cars or supplied engines for competition, but it wasn’t until 1977 that the French manufacturer formally entered Formula 1.
At various times in the four decades since, they have quit the sport, only to return a few years later. On occasion they have won world titles, while other times have been more fruitless. Renault’s most recent return to F1 started in 2016, but for this season they have rebranded their team name to Alpine.
The Alpine automotive company was started in France in the 1950s, but within 20 years had been acquired by Renault. The sporting arm of the group decided to invest into Alpine’s motor sport ambitions and in the 1970s, Alpine enjoyed success in both the World Rally Championship and the famous round-the-clock Le Mans 24 Hours sports car race.
Alpine was to remain rather dormant until Renault decided to stage a relaunch and market the car as one of the sportier brands within its group of companies. That has culminated in the release of the sleek Alpine A110 road car, a return to the Le Mans 24 Hours and in 2021 a place on the Formula 1 grid.
As part of this rebrand, Renault signed one of their former F1 champions, Fernando Alonso, to partner promising French youngster Esteban Ocon at the team.
Racing in traditional blue with hues of the red and white of the French flag also featuring on the car, Alpine is proudly representing France on the motor racing stage. This was perfectly encapsulated when Ocon stood on the top step of the podium at the 2021 Hungarian Grand Prix as the French national anthem rang out to celebrate both his and Alpine’s first victory in Formula 1. The nation of France will be hoping to hear [I]La Marseillaise many more times in the future – and it could even be played on the podium at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix in December…