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Otmar Szafnauer

Szafnauer takes aim at Alpine, opens up F1 team exit

Otmar Szafnauer's sudden exit from the Alpine Formula 1 team caused a stir midway through the 2023 season and the Romanian-American engineer has now opened up on his departure.

Szafnauer
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Ex-Alpine Team Principal Otmar Szafnauer has provided details regarding his departure from the Enstone-based squad last year.

During the 2023 Belgian Grand Prix weekend, Szafnauer's exit was confirmed alongside Sporting Director Alan Permane.

The announcement was made during a difficult season for Alpine who found itself further down in Formula 1 pecking order compared to the previous campaign.

Laurent Rossi, who was the CEO of the team before being moved to a different role shortly before Szafnauer's exit, criticised the squad for its early-season performances.

Szafnauer joined Alpine in 2022 following a long stint at the Silverstone-based outfit that currently operates as Aston Martin.

“This may sound egotistical but I believe I was doing a good job at Alpine and that I was making the right changes,” Szafnauer told MotorSport Magazine.

“I have seen new team leaders make changes for the sake of change, they want to show the owners that they are doing something, making changes for the better.

“The problem is they often don’t understand the changes they’re making. When you walk into a situation like Alpine you first have to get a deep understanding of what you have, what’s good, and what needs changing, but you cannot do that overnight.”

However, Szafnauer stated that he was at odds with the Alpine board over the direction of the team, resulting in his exit midway through the campaign.

“Alpine’s senior bosses wanted success faster than was possible. I told them what was possible, and they said they didn’t have time for that.

“It seems they don’t understand that it takes time to change a culture, to get new skill sets where we didn’t have them.”

“They simply don’t have the technical ability they need,” he explains.

“When I got there I told them they needed this stuff, and some new people. When you start recruiting you are lucky to get anyone within a year because of their multi-year contracts.

“And, of course, you need to offer them something they don’t have, like more responsibility.

“I told Alpine I was making progress but their response was always ‘we don’t have time for this.’

“That was the cause of our disagreement and I was given less than 10 days warning of their decision that led to my departure at the Belgian GP.”

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