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Formula 1 Spanish GP

Alpine could abandon Renault engines and become F1 customer team in 2026

French manufacturer in talks with rivals about customer engine deals amid suggestions it could abandon Renault works unit

Jack Doohan, Alpine A524

Jack Doohan, Alpine A524

Photo by: Glenn Dunbar / Motorsport Images

Alpine is considering abandoning its works Renault engine in Formula 1 from 2026 and has opened talks with rival manufacturers about the possibility of securing a customer deal instead.
As part of an evaluation of its F1 project prompted by a difficult start to the current campaign, it has emerged that senior Renault and Alpine management have left no stone unturned in working out what is needed to improve its situation.
With its current Renault power unit down on performance compared to rivals, and no certainty it will get things right for the next generation turbo hybrids coming in 2026, it has questioned whether the huge investment needed to produce its own engine is essential.
It is understood that a plan is now being evaluated for Renault to potentially abandon work on its 2026 power unit and instead shift Alpine to become a customer team.
Sources have revealed that Alpine team principal Bruno Famin has been pondering the situation over recent weeks, and has held talks with rival manufacturers to see what the alternative options could be.
The most logical solution to avoid a potential manufacturer clash issue for Renault would be to take a supply of customer engines from Red Bull, which will have its own power units from 2026.
However, despite talks with the team, it is thought that the chances of a Red Bull deal are unlikely because of the logistical complications that the Milton Keynes-based team would face in supplying a third team alongside itself and sister squad RB for its debut campaign in 2026.
Red Bull Powertrains HQ

Red Bull Powertrains HQ

Photo by: Jon Noble

Speaking last year about the possibility of a customer deal, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said: "I think we need to establish ourselves first. We don't want to overstretch ourselves.
"I think already supplying two teams in '26, that is probably even slightly beyond optimum in year one, but it just gives us the capacity and capability for further down the line. So I think first of all, we need to firmly establish ourselves and then we have the capability to take more on from there."
If the Red Bull route does not happen, then the most likely other option would be Mercedes, which has a supply deal freed up for 2026 thanks to Aston Martin's switch to Honda.
Customer deals with Aston Martin and McLaren have already shown the German car manufacturer is not afraid to supply other automotive companies with power units, as it does not see any wider commercial downside to its F1 deals.
If Alpine does decide to go down the customer engine route, and cannot reach its own agreement with another manufacturer, then F1's regulations detail how one of the sport's current engine suppliers would be called upon to supply it so it is not left without a power unit.
That would likely end up in Honda being requested to provide an engine, as it is the only existing manufacturer that does not have plans for a second customer team in 2026.

Renault commitment

While Alpine's engine situation appears fluid right now, it comes with Renault CEO Luca de Meo making it clear recently that he was committed to the future of Alpine in F1, despite interest from potential buyers.
Luca de Meo, CEO, Renault Group

Luca de Meo, CEO, Renault Group

Photo by: Michael Potts / Motorsport Images

Speaking to Autocar, he said: "It's not my style. We will not sell even a part of this thing. We don't need the money. I've had people making offers left and right, then talking in the press about it. But we're not interested. It would be stupid, and I won't do it."
In the lengthy interview, he did cite, however, that Renault had never successfully got on top of the turbo hybrid engine rules – which had cost it performance throughout the current regulation cycle.
"When we began the hybrid era [in 2014], our engine didn't perform," he said. "We had been world champions with Red Bull but with hybrid, things went wrong.
"Even the engine we developed in 2021 had a 0.2s to 0.5s disadvantage every lap. And this year we've screwed up with the car. If you combine everything, we're up to 1.5s from where we need to be."
As well as the switch of engines meaning Alpine could secure power units that are cheaper and potentially more competitive, a move to become a customer team would also make the team potentially easier to sell in the future as the squad would not have the legacy element of its Viry-Chatillon engine department involved as part of its F1 effort anymore.
Viry, which is Renault Sport Racing's headquarters near Paris, has designed and produced the French manufacturer's F1 engines since the 1970s.
And while a move away from involvement in grand prix racing would mark a dramatic shift in its focus, there is still plenty of other motorsport activity it could be involved in.
This includes helping develop the power unit for its WEC Hypercar, which currently runs a modified Mecachrome F2 engine with a spec hybrid system.
Alpine declined to comment on the situation when contacted by Motorsport.com.

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