Newcomers Andrea Stella on behalf of McLaren and James Vowles for Williams will be joined by Alessandro Alunni Bravi, who has taken on the team principal role for Alfa Romeo, although officially he’s known as team representative.
Alunni Bravi will be working in tandem with Andreas Seidl, who has come in as Sauber Group CEO with an overview of the whole organisation. The German’s main task is to prepare the ground for Audi’s arrival, and it’s been agreed that as such he can’t commit to attending 23 Grands Prix, with all the time away from the factory that would entail.
Thus Alunni Bravi, who doubles up as Sauber’s managing director, will be the public face of the team on race weekends, and the man who liaises with the FIA, Formula 1 and so on.
Although he’s been a paddock regular for several years even within the F1 world the 48-year-old is not widely known, as he’s always been careful to keep a low profile. By necessity that now changes. The team’s recent launch livestream was the first time that fans around the world got to see and hear him.
Trained as a lawyer, Alunni Bravi has held a wide variety of roles in different forms of motorsport over the years, sometimes juggling several overlapping jobs at once.
After a brief period as a journalist he worked in management roles at the Coloni F3000 and Trident GP2 teams, and later the N.Technology World Touring Car Championship outfit.
He gained a different view of the sport when he was involved in event organising with the Cagliari GP F3000 race, Rally Sardinia for the World Rally Championship, Formula Masters and the TCR series. For a while he worked for the company that owned the WRC rights for Italy.
He also moved into driver management, working for several years with Nicolas Todt’s All Road concern. Later he formed his own company, notably looking after Stoffel Vandoorne and Robert Kubica.
Alunni Bravi has a wealth of knowledge and experience
Photo by: Alfa Romeo
In 2010 he became the general counsel for the ART team and Formula E manufacturer Spark, and it was his connections with Fred Vasseur that saw him join Sauber in 2017. Initially he held a legal role before also being named MD.
He’s thus gained a lot of management experience in a variety of areas over the years, and as such he presents an interesting contrast to the recent trend towards engineers taking the top job, as exemplified by the likes of Stella, Vowles and Mike Krack at Aston Martin.
“I approach this with humility,” he tells Autosport. “I am part of a strong group that I had the chance to join in 2017. I know these people, and the first feeling for me is to be proud of this new role, but also I feel the responsibility to properly represent them.
“We have more than 500 people working here, and each of them gives a contribution. What I have to do is to give the same contribution with the same level of dedication, of attention and passion as all these people.
“It’s not for myself this role, it’s for the team to give them the very best condition to deliver, without pressure and just being focused on this. If I will gain respect of our people at the end of the season this will be the most important target.”
As noted Alunni Bravi originally arrived in Hinwil in tandem with his long-time associate Fred Vasseur, and it’s the Frenchman’s departure to Ferrari that has led to him taking on a bigger responsibility in the camp.
«First of all, Fred is a friend,” he says. “And I can never forget all the time spent together from the very beginning when we joined Sauber in 2017. And, of course, we want to continue all the path, the development plan, that he put in place.
“And for me, personally, I want to thank him. In what we have achieved Fred has been instrumental, he has been our leader. We want to continue his journey, we want to confirm that the team achieved this position because of the work that we have put in place thanks to Fred.”
Vasseur hasn’t completely disappeared from Sauber’s orbit – until the end of 2025 he’ll be the main point of contact at the team’s PU supplier.
“I think we will be very, very happy to keep the collaboration with him,» Alunni Bravi says. «Don’t forget that Ferrari is our key technical partner and I think that the fact that Fred is there will even more facilitate our relationship.
«We will work together in order to keep this growth and to continue progressing as a team.”
Alfa heads into 2023 with a slightly unusual structure in that Seidl is taking a step back rather than serving as team principal.
However, comparisons can be drawn with Zak Brown at McLaren and Laurent Rossi at Alpine, CEOs who obviously play a key role in big decisions, but who have delegated the day-to-day responsibilities of running their teams.
Alunni Bravi is adamant that splitting the roles is a logical move.
Alunni Bravi (left) will share duties with Sauber’s new Group CEO Andreas Seidl
Photo by: Sauber
“We are very happy to have had the possibility to appoint Andreas as our Group CEO,” he says. “I think this is a very important addition to our overall group.
«His background, his expertise, his knowledge, the fact that he has always been working in a leading position in very strong organisation, I think that will bring values and will help us to continue the growth, and to identify the areas that we need to improve.
“Of course, F1 is extremely complex now. And as a team, we want to continue our growth. And all together we think that we need to develop also our structure, to split the roles in order to address all our weaknesses and to work deeply on each area.
“And with the calendar and with all the activities that we need to perform on and off-track it was in our understanding a clever move to split functions among different people.
«I accepted the appointment as team representative so that together with Andreas it will help the team to have stability and to have continuity for me to represent the people that I’ve known for many years.
“This structure, in our opinion, should respond to the demands and to the increasing needs of F1 in terms of complexity and we think that we will be more effective.”
On race weekends Alunni Bravi will have support from the likes of head of track engineering Xavi Pujolar and Beat Zehnder, the team’s sporting director.
He is adamant that Seidl in the perfect man to take an overview role at Sauber, thanks to a combination of his prior links with Hinwil and the knowledge he gained running the Porsche LMP1 project and latterly McLaren.
«He is a very instrumental part of the growth of the team, because of his expertise,» he says. «He knew Sauber from his BMW period here, he knows how to work with a larger organisation, he has strong experience with a very high level team in F1 where he acted as the team principal.
“So, he has all the characteristics to fit in this role from the very beginning, to be immediately effective, and to help us to further develop the team.
“He’s a person that is fully transparent, he goes straight to the point. We’ve started analysing all the areas where we can improve as an overall organisation. And of course with his expertise, and also a different point of view of a different way to manage things, this is very important. We need to challenge ourselves.
“I think it’s a teamwork that has started in a very positive way. And we are all happy to start delivering this season.”
Alfa Romeo will be boosted by a partnership with Audi
Photo by: Alfa Romeo
The fact that Alunni Bravi has not been named team principal suggests that perhaps someone else could yet be appointed, and that he will then step sideways.
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One could speculate that Audi plans to eventually put a company insider in that role – Allan McNish would be one obvious candidate – but with the team still running as Alfa Romeo, it’s too early to do so. However, Alunni Bravi insists that the team isn’t yet looking that far ahead.
“We are focused on 2023, really. We know that we need to deliver our job now, we are focused on the overall performance of the team. We know that the work we do on a daily basis will also shape our future. But we need to work and be focused on the day-by-day. We have a lot of work ahead of us.
«For me the biggest challenge is to push the button and to start the 2023 season. And then from time to time, we will think about the future. But the future you build each day, delivering your best, being focused on what you do. This is the best way to build the future, to focus on the daily business.”
Alfa finished sixth in last year’s championship, just pipping Aston Martin, but well behind McLaren and Alpine. Where might the team lie when this year’s midfield battle shakes out?
“We don’t target a result for this year,” Alunni Bravi insists. “For every team it’s very difficult to know where we stand ahead of the start of the season. But our target during the wintertime has been to analyse the 2022 season and to address all our weaknesses and to fix them.
“Only the track will say if we have been doing the right work, but the target for sure is to improve the overall performance. Which means for us to solve the reliability issues that we had last year, to be consistent throughout all the season.
«And then at the end of the season, we will see where we will be.»