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Weekly F1 Recap: Goodbye Cyril, Sao Paulo GP contract & more

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Weekly F1 Recap: Goodbye Cyril, Sao Paulo GP contract & more


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Alpine F1 will get a new leader ahead of their rebrand season, as a result of a sudden exit from the team. Romain Grosjean shared photos of his recovery. Another F1 driver has tested positive for COVID-19.

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Renault F1 team boss Cyril Abiteboul has parted ways with the French car company as part of a management shuffle ahead of the team’s Alpine rebrand this season. Abiteboul climbed his way through the ranks from Business Development Manager in 2007 to Executive Director of the team in 2010. He briefly served as team principal of Caterham F1 when Renault left F1 at the end of the 2011 season. He joined Renault again in 2014 after the demise of Caterham, helping Renault to rejoin F1 in 2016.

It was expected that Abiteboul would be taking on a different role in the team for 2021 with the Alpine rebrand. Laurent Rossi has taken over as Alpine CEO and Marcin Budkowski has been appointed as a director of Alpine Racing.

© Renault SAS

The team also unveiled their show car decked out in a “temporary winter livery”. The reskinned Renault F1 car is called the A521. The “A” stands for “Alpine” and the “21” is for the year 2021. The “5” is a tribute to the company’s A500 prototype that was produced in 1975 to help Renault test the new engine they would use in 1977. Much like Renault’s black testing livery in the 2020 pre-season, this Alpine livery is expected to be replaced by the actual livery in the car launch event next month.

Romain Grosjean appears to have been recovering well following his horrific crash at the Bahrain Grand Prix. Grosjean shared photos of his hands on social media, to celebrate being given the all-clear to remove the dressing from his left hand, which sustained the most burns. The Frenchman has been streaming regularly on Twitch, in games like iRacing.

Calendar changes, which were discussed in last week’s recap, have been confirmed in a new provisional calendar that has been released. The changes see the Australian Grand Prix moved to November 21, making Bahrain the new season opener on March 28. The Chinese Grand Prix is not present on the new calendar, as the sport management tries to work with the event organizers to reschedule the event to later in the year.

Imola has been confirmed in the “to be confirmed” slot that was set for April 25, although it has been shifted a week earlier to make room for another race on May 2. Although the location of this new race has yet to be confirmed, it’s believed that it will be the Portuguese Grand Prix.

The changes to pre-season testing after also been agreed upon by everyone involved, meaning that the single three-day test will be held in Bahrain from March 12-14. This is more than a week later than the originally planned testing in Barcelona on May 2.

© Haas F1 Team

The legality of the five-year contract extension signed by the organizers of the race in Brazil has been called into question, with a judge having temporarily suspended the Sao Paulo Grand Prix contract pending further investigation. Despite wanting to move the race from Sao Paulo to Rio de Janeiro, F1 eventually signed a five-year deal to host a race at Interlagos until 2025. Instead of being a government run event, the race would be organized by Brazil Motorsport, a newly formed company backed by the Abu Dhabi government. According to legal documents, the deal would cost the city of Sao Paulo roughly £2.67m ($3.65m) annually. A lack of transparency about the government money being used to fund the event is the main source of the legal complaint.

Charles Leclerc has tested positive for COVID-19, becoming the fifth F1 driver to do so. He has been experiencing mild symptoms and is isolating in his Monaco home. It’s unclear where he contracted the virus, but he was on holiday in Dubai earlier in the month.


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About Wesley Branton:

Wesley is a motorsport journalist from Canada who fell in love with Formula One many years ago. His work has been featured in other major motorsport news publications.

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