Alfa Romeo without a team principal – what does it mean?
By Ian Parkes
Thursday 9th February, 2023 - 2:15am
When Alfa Romeo announced Alessandro Alunni Bravi as its team representative last month it prompted two obvious questions – Alessandro who, and what is a team representative?
In fairness to Alunni Bravi, the 49-year-old from Italy is well-equipped to take on a bespoke role within the day-to-day running of the Alfa Romeo operation, in addition to his position as managing director that he took up last year.
A civil lawyer by education, Alunni Bravi has served as general counsel to the Sauber Group since he joined the company almost six years ago.
In the eyes of new Sauber CEO Andreas Seidl, he will be regarded as a safe pair of hands, as well as trusted eyes and ears when it comes to dealing with the FIA and Formula 1.
Alunni Bravi is also no stranger to the pit wall as he was managing director and team manager at Coloni Motorsport in 2002 and 2003 before then serving as general manager of the WRC’s Rally Italia Sardinia event.
For four years from 2005, Alunni Bravi was the team principal of Trident Racing which competed in GP2 prior to combining motorsport and law by becoming general counsel for ART Grand Prix, Spark Racing Technology, and Birel ART.
Seven years ago, Alunni Bravi founded his own talent management company that includes the likes of Robert Kubica, Stoffel Vandoorne and Christian Lundgaard.
Audi arrival leads to Seidl CEO focus
Despite Seidl’s experience as team principal at McLaren, it was felt he would be better served concentrating on the strategic aspects of Audi’s integration into the organisation when it becomes a full-works team in 2026.
Unlike predecessor Fred Vasseur, who served as both team principal and Group CEO, it was felt Seidl would be too stretched in trying to cover both roles at such a crucial time in the company’s history.
To that end, Alunni Bravi will be the voice of Alfa Romeo in a three-pronged structure that also includes Sauber ‘lifer’ Beat Zehnder in his role as sporting director, and head of track engineering Xevi Pujolar.
As to why, though, he will not be sporting the title of team principal, Alunni Bravi said: “Team principal is a name. What we have is the function of a team principal that is split among different profiles.
“What we have decided, together with Andreas, is to change the organisational structure of the team in order to respond to the complexity of all the tasks each one of the team is facing now.
“There is not only one structure that you can have for a Formula 1 team, so we decided to split the functions between the different personnel, on track and off track.
“I will be the team representative, meaning that I will work with Xevi and Beat, but I will have different functions from them.
“I will represent the team vis-a-vis with the FIA, with Formula 1, and of course with media and sponsors.
“We will work as a team, and I think this is important. This structure will help to address, in a better way, the tasks we have ahead of us.
“It’s simply a different structure. I think all the teams are developing their models in order to be more efficient.”
Alunni Bravi to be “guided” by Seidl
Alunni Bravi recognises his own inexperience compared to the other nine team principals in F1 but this is where he will at least be aided on occasion by Seidl.
“First of all, you always have to learn,” assessed Alunni Bravi of his roles and responsibilities.
“So I approach this with humility. It is a new role for me, in addition to my position as a managing director.
“Of course, I don’t have the experience or the competence of other team principals or team representatives.
“So, for me, it will be the first day to start learning, but I have strong support from a team, very competent people, a strong group working around myself.
“I will be coordinated and guided by Andreas, then we have Beat on track, and people like Xevi who has huge experience.
“So, I will be supporting them, as they will be supporting me, and this makes me comfortable, although I do know that I will be facing challenges.
“What will be new? Of course, as a team representative, I will be on the pit wall, and I will also be taking part in all the activities with the FIA and Formula 1.
“So I will be living the race weekend, together with the team. I will be there to support them, I will be there to support the drivers.
“What is the objective? The objective is to gain the respect of all our people working together with me at the factory and on the track. This is the personal objective, nothing new.
“I’m one of the people working on track, not the most important one. The contribution of everyone on track is key for a Formula 1 team as for any company, and I will try to give my best and to contribute a little to the success of this team.”
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