Every morning, weary-eyed engineer Bruno Famin wakes up and decides to walk a tightrope so long that he’ll still be on it long after dinner time.

Previously the mastermind of victories at Le Mans and Dakar, plus Sébastien Loeb’s record-setting run at Pikes Peak, Famin was last year named as the new vice-president of Alpine Racing.

It’s his job to correct the course of a Formula 1 team that took six rounds to score a single point in 2024, as well as a nascent World Endurance Championship (WEC) programme. All while avoiding the slippages of blunt honesty that appeared to land his predecessor, Laurent Rossi, a sudden and unexpected promotion to the Renault Group’s “special projects”.

I spent time with Alpine at the 6 Hours of Spa last month in a bid to better understand what it’s doing to escape from the slump.

Its brand-new hypercar, the A424, was due its third outing, and there were big questions about its competitiveness. Lucky fuel savings yielded a strong eighth-place finish in its Qatar debut, but the second round at Imola was much more testing. Contact through the first turn, as well as problems dealing with the circuit’s high kerbs, led to results of 13th and 16th place. 

I met Famin in a team tent nestled between La Source and Eau Rouge, shortly before qualifying kicked off. There was an apparent tension in the air, Alpine having placed eighth out of 19 hypercars in the final practice session – almost a full second ahead of the BMW behind. Was Qatar a fluke, or was there real pace in the A424?

Alpine A424 cornering at Spa-Francorchamps

Famin proved tough to read: almost totally expressionless, save for a slight crease in his brow. It seemed he was quietly calculating something – that, or he was bored halfway to death by the Belgian journalists he'd just been interviewed by.