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Alpine F1 Team

Szafnauer Alpine role at risk - 'There's going to be consequences'

A damning review of Alpine's early-season performances from CEO Laurent Rossi, who has insisted he will not wait to make changes if the team doesn't rebound.

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Alpine CEO Laurent Rossi has delivered an ultimatum to the team over its lacklustre start to the season.

The French manufacturer was labelled as 'amateur' by Rossi in an interview with Canal+ ahead of Miami Grand Prix qualifying, where Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon both made the top 10.

Gasly was on course for a top-six finish before being forced into extreme fuel saving in the closing laps, allowing Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc to overtake.

But before the weekend, Alpine had secured just eight points across four races and a sprint, with performances in Bahrain and Azerbaijan particularly lacking and the season as a whole a stark contrast to the year that saw the team finish fourth in the Constructors' standings last term.

Speaking to F1.com, Rossi detailed the process of recovering from the poor start and returning to chasing down regular podium finishes.

“It starts with owning up to your mistakes, to not repeat the mistakes, to learn from your mistakes. It’s okay to make mistakes, it’s not okay to make them twice because it means you didn’t learn. This year, there is a lot of excuses, which lead to poor performance and a lack of operational excellence.

“I need to tackle this, I need the right people to tackle this. I need the team to be aware they need to do that as it’s not up to me – it’s up to them, they have to do it. It’s their responsibility. I hope they make the same diagnosis. I will make it clear to them that this is the diagnosis and they need to fix that.”

There is no hiding here

Otmar Szafnauer joined as Team Principal last year as part of a management restructuring, but Rossi has suggested the former Aston Martin boss' job is at risk should form not be reversed.

“He is responsible for the performance of the team – that’s his job,” added Rossi.

“There is no hiding here. Otmar was brought in to steer the team, through the season and the next seasons towards the objectives that we have, which is to constantly make progress, as we did in the first two years – fifth and fourth – and to get to the podiums and therefore, this is his mission to turn this team around and bring it to the performance that we want.

“We had a team that performed reasonably well last year, got the fourth position which is the best improvement we had in a long time. It showed a lot of promise. It’s more of less the same people so I don’t accept that we are not capable of maintaining that. Yes, it is Otmar and the rest of his team as Otmar alone doesn’t do everything, but the buck stops with Otmar. It’s Otmar’s responsibility, yes.

“Trust is something that increases with good results and erodes with bad results. Everyone starts with a capital of trust and then you manage it.

"There are only so many setbacks you can take in a sport, in a competition world, because basically it shows. Everyone can tell whether or not you’re going in the right direction. It directly impacts your capital of trust. I would say Otmar is very capable, but he has a big task on his hands.”

I won't wait

Alpine's shortcomings have been highlighted by Aston Martin's rapid rise to second in the Constructors' standings and Rossi has warned he will not wait to make changes.

“I don’t enter a competition and reset my objective because it’s easier," he insisted.

"The team managed to get fourth. They have the means to get fourth, more so than others. I want them to be fourth. If they don’t, it’s going to be a failure.

“If they fail by giving 500% best and turning this ship around, there will be extenuating circumstances and it bodes well for the future. If not, it’s the rule of business, there’s going to be consequences. And I won’t wait until the end of the year. The trajectory is not good. We need to fix the mindset of the team ASAP.”

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