On the 17th of October, the Alpine F1 team announced that 4-time major winning golfer, Rory McIlroy, and world heavyweight champion boxer, Anthony Joshua, are the latest star investors in the Renault-owned team. They have joined up with Otro Capital, who strategically invested €200m in exchange for a 24% equity stake. Other sports stars in the group include Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, Juan Mata and Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold.
In a statement, the financial group commented that the additional investment would bolster global awareness for the team as well as encourage sponsorship. This targets both the fans, encouraging them to support Alpine and grow the fanbase, and of course the big brands who draw in the financial support to grow and develop the team. This in turn would help Alpine try to become a championship-winning contender, rather than a midfield sitter amongst other struggling teams, such as Williams and Haas.
This would help Alpine try to become a championship-winning contender, rather than a midfield sitter.
This investment comes at a time when Alpine have been struggling in the world championship: DNFs have been plaguing the team from both unfortunately timed crashes and mechanical issues, including a steering failure in the Italian Grand Prix earlier this year. A DNF for both Alpine drivers in Australia at the beginning of the 2023 campaign was one of the first worrying signs on track for the team. Two consecutive DNFs for Gasly and Ocon followed in July at both the British GP at Silverstone, and the Hungarian GP too; both drivers missing out on points with the lack of track time.
Problems trouble the team not only on track, but off track too; over the summer of 2022, during what is colloquially known as ‘silly season’ (where speculation arises around driver line-ups and contract extensions for the upcoming season), Alpine and now former CEO Laurent Rossi lost the two-time world champion Fernando Alonso to Aston Martin F1 team. Alonso currently sits 5th in the driver standings at 183 points. The rookie that has shocked the paddock, Australian Oscar Piastri, also slipped through their fingers, transferring to McLaren to start his F1 career, where he has been on the podium twice already this season in Japan and Qatar, 3rd and 2nd respectively. He also took pole position in Qatar for the Sprint Race on Saturday. Incredibly soon after the investment of Otro Capital, Rossi was sacked, along with team principle Otmar Szafnauer and long-standing sporting director Alan Permane.
The involvement of famous sportspeople could be both a blessing and a curse for Formula 1.
It is hoped that by bringing in big stars from other sports, it will draw media attention and fan engagement. McIlroy said that he was “excited about this opportunity” and his “passion for excellence on the golf course has led [him] to admire the same pursuit in Formula 1.” Whilst on the grid during the build-up to the United States Grand Prix, Joshua told SkySportsF1 pundit, Martin Brundle, that the investment will bring Alpine “direct and committed supporters” like himself – yet during this interview he pronounced Alpine wrong… The involvement of famous sportspeople could be both a blessing and a curse for Formula 1: it could draw in support from other sports to cheer on for the same team that their sporting hero is investing in. Or perhaps it could be met with backlash. The mispronunciation of Alpine, for example, could infuriate true fans of Alpine, as this is clearly coming across as nothing more than a marketing scheme, rather than true dedication and passion for the sport by other stars from the sporting world. It will be interesting to observe how successful this breathtaking sum of an investment will be in contributing to “elevating the Alpine F1 team” as Otro Capital are intending to.
From the fans perspective, it is obvious that they would favour fans being given a once in a lifetime opportunity to walk the grid before a race, rather than it be cluttered with celebrities who know little to nothing about the racers and the sport. However, this investment could prove spectacular if it can push Alpine further up the grid and gain recognition for its sporting prowess rather than its constant defeat and bad luck.