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Belgian Grand Prix 2023

Stoddie Straight: Alpine send a lamb to slaughter; Sainz's clumsy mistake and 2025

RacingNews365's expert columnist Paul Stoddart casts his eye over the Belgian Grand Prix.

Ocon Belgium
Column
To news overview © XPBimages

I have known Otmar Szafnauer for 20 years and know what is is like to be a Team Principal and the pressures you are under and the things you do that people don't even see you do.

Alpine has made a big, big mistake. To effectively get rid of the top management, I can't see the sense in that and also don't know who they have recruited to take over.

By all accounts, the new Interim Team Principal Bruno Famin has no experience.

When he walks into his first meeting of the Piranha Club, it'll be like a lamb to the slaughter.

I just don't get it. Otmar is a sharp operator, with decades of experience. To do it the way they did, in the middle of a race weekend, from a PR point of view, I couldn't think of anything worse.

I was really disappointed to see that, and thought Alpine would have had more sense.

Maybe they have their reasons, and maybe further down the road, something will become clearer, but I certainly don't see it at the moment.

They could have done this during the summer break, it would have passed without too much attention and when you get rid of someone, it is nice to know who is coming in, that there is a bit of a thought process behind it.

So far, I've not heard anything that tells me they've thought this through, and letting Sporting Director Alan Permane go as well. Why would you do something like that after 30 years?

It's crazy. I don't get it. I don't think that history is going to judge this as a very sensible decision.

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

Sainz at fault for collison

The first lap incident with Oscar and Carlos didn't help either of them and was a stupid move.

I lay that firmly at Carlos's door.

I feel that if he didn't know Oscar was there, he ought to have known.

You always hate to see drivers touching the wall at a corner like that when all the other cars are around. It could have been so much worse.

Back in 1998, we had the whole field blocked with four cars out the first corner - and it could have been exactly the same type of incident.

It could have been absolute carnage if Oscar or Carlos had spun there. If either had gone around, it would have been a bad situation.

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

Red Bull and 2025

Put Red Bull to one side, they've won everything.

You have got to look at who is second, third, fourth and fifth.

It is clearly between Ferrari, Aston Martin and Mercedes - I would not like to predict who is going to finish where.

You can also see McLaren catching up, so where we are going to end in Abu Dhabi is anyone's guess.

That is going to make for some exciting racing in the second-half of the season.

I know every team's goal is to get up there and fight Red Bull, but I see nothing changing until the regulations do.

We saw the dominance with Red Bull in 2010-2013 with Sebastian Vettel - we saw the dominance of Lewis Hamilton through 2014-2020.

Max's dominance is the way it is.

These days, when we have big regulation changes one team always seems to come out dominant.

Red Bull can quite comfortably, with a lack of wind-tunnel time quite comfortably claim the 2023 and 2024 championships without too much fear or worry.

But 2025 could be something different.

F1 2023 Belgian Grand Prix RN365 News dossier

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