Over the weekend it was announced that Renault’s Enstone-based Formula One squad would change its name next year to be Alpine. Come Monday, the Alpine team announced it would also be elevating its FIA World Endurance Championship Signatech-Alpine effort from the LMP2 category where it has raced for five seasons — winning Le Mans three times in the process — up to the LMP1 category for the 2021 year. This will mark the first time a team has run Formula One and top-class Le Mans concurrently in at least twenty years.
Because the 2021 regulations will allow current LMP1 cars to compete under a grandfather clause, Alpine will be running a single Rebellion R-13 LMP1. Much like Alpine’s current LMP2 car, the Rebellion R-13 uses an Oreca-constructed chassis and a similar, but unrestricted, Gibson naturally aspirated V8. That particular chassis is not eligible to compete in the rules into 2022, and the going rumour is that this is a precursor to Alpine kicking off an LMDh or Hypercar effort going forward.
Signatech team boss Philippe Sinault likens this new challenge to Alpine’s first started racing in 2013, saying, “Today, this new challenge is in the same vein thanks to the opening of a unique window of opportunity. We will be the newcomers in the top category and we intend to make life difficult for our opponents.
“The trust that Alpine has placed in us in this project is a huge source of pride for our teams and partners who have joined this adventure in its early stages.
“It is an exhilarating and incredibly motivating challenge from a sporting point of view and we are determined to be up to the challenge so that Alpine can enter even more into the history of French and world motorsport.”
No word has been given yet as to who would be given the honour of driving this new LMP1 effort, but it makes a lot of sense that the team’s current driver lineup of Thomas Laurent, André Negrão, and Pierre Ragues would continue on. Will this LMP1 car be competitive with the Hypercar entries from Toyota, Glickenhaus, and ByKolles? We’ll see.