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The most shocking team boss exits in F1 history

Team Principals bear the weight of being responsible for a Formula 1 squad's performance, and are often ousted if strong results aren't produced. But what are some of the most surprising exits during the sport's history?

Steiner
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To news overview © XPBimages

The news this week that Guenther Steiner has been sacked as the Team Principal of Haas after 10 years in charge surprised some.

The Italian has helped Haas build from the ground up and has been integral to its ups and downs during its time on the grid.

However poor results from the last handful of seasons brought about the need for change in the eyes of team owner Gene Haas.

Taking a look into the past, RacingNews365 remembers some of the more surprising team boss exits that have occurred in Formula 1.

Ron Dennis - McLaren

One of the most famous Team Principals of all time, Ron Dennis took over at the helm of McLaren in the early 1980s and reformed the squad into a competitive giant over the next two decades.

Under Dennis' leadership, McLaren won 10 Drivers' Championships and seven Constructors' titles to be established as one of F1's greatest-ever teams.

McLaren entered a difficult period after the 2012 season and reports emerged that his relationship with Mansour Ojjeh became difficult despite the two being in partnership for almost 30 years.

Dennis lost a court case against his fellow shareholders in November 2016 and after his contract expired at the start of 2017, he agreed to sell his shares in the team to bring his long association with McLaren to an end.

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

Otmar Szafnauer - Alpine

Alpine's 2023 F1 campaign had its fair share of drama amid a series of managerial changes that occurred during the year.

Szafnauer's exit itself wasn't a complete surprise after Laurent Rossi (who was removed from his CEO role before Szafnauer's departure) labelled the team's performance as “amateurish” shortly after the start of the season.

However, in strange circumstances, Alpine announced on the opening day of the Belgian Grand Prix weekend that Szafnauer would exit at the end of the event, along with Sporting Director Alan Permane.

Szafnauer, who had built a strong reputation for his time spent at the Force India team, was only in the role at Alpine for 18 months.

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

Claire Williams - Williams

In March 2013, Claire Williams became the Deputy Team Principal of the team built by her father Frank. While the latter still held the official Team Principal title, it was Claire who ran the day-to-day operations.

There were successful years in the early turbo-hybrid seasons as it scored third place in the Constructors' Championships in 2014 and 2015.

However as the decade wore on, Williams slipped down the pecking order and ended the 2018, 2019 and 2020 seasons last in the standings.

Towards the end of the 2020 campaign, the squad was sold to Dorilton Capital amid the strains of the Covid-19 pandemic and the Williams family released control of the squad after more than 40 years of competition.

			© Williams
	© Williams

Cyril Abiteboul - Alpine

Cyril Abiteboul was the face of Renault's Formula 1 operation for much of the turbo-hybrid era in a Managing Director role, having been part of the organisation for some two decades.

Renault set itself some ambitious targets when it returned as a works team in 2016 but it struggled for performance for a number of years and didn't return to the podium until 2020.

For the 2021 campaign, it opted to rebrand to Alpine and Abiteboul was set to lead the new era for the team - before his departure was announced on the eve of the season.

Abiteboul has since taken up a role as the president of Hyundai Motorsport, who is active in the World Rally Championship.

			© Renault Sport
	© Renault Sport

Monisha Kaltenborn - Sauber

Kaltenborn rose to the head of the Sauber team in 2012, becoming the first Team Principal in F1 to do so after Peter Sauber stepped down.

While her reign is overshadowed by the dramatic start to the 2015 campaign that saw Giedo van der Garde launch legal action against the team for not honouring a contract, that season was Kaltenborn's most successful.

Sauber scored 36 points en route to eighth in the standings before falling back in the order the following two years.

Despite being in the role for several years, on the eve of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in 2017, Sauber announced that she had left the team with immediate effect “due to diverging views of the future of the company”.

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

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