Guenther Steiner casts verdict on ‘not normal’ sackings at Alpine

Michelle Foster
Otmar Szafnauer on the grid with Alan Permane and Ciaron Pilbeam. Australia April 2023

Alpine team boss Otmar Szafnauer on the grid with Alan Permane and Ciaron Pilbeam. Australia April 2023

Sacking Otmar Szafnauer and Alan Permane on the eve of the summer holiday, Guenther Steiner concedes that’s not “normal” but “everybody does it their own way”.

Alpine announced on the Friday of the Belgian Grand Prix that neither team principal Szafnauer nor stalwart Permane would be back after the summer holiday, both having been let go by the team.

Interim team boss Bruno Famin said Szafnauer and Permane were “not on the same timeline to recover the level or to reach the level of performance we are aiming for” despite having previously set out a 100-race target.

‘Otmar Szafnauer will be disappointed’

Szafnauer was 34 races into Alpine’s 100-race plan having only signed with the Enstone team in early 2022.

Having previously achieved success with Racing Point, a team that punched above its weight financially, Haas team boss Steiner feels Szafnauer’s exit makes little sense, and the timing of it even less.

He, however, has backed the long-time Formula 1 team boss to recover “pretty quick” from his exit.

“It was done in not the normal way,” conceded the Haas team boss, “but everybody does it their own way.

“I think obviously Otmar will be disappointed, but he has been there before.

“If you are in this job, I think most of us have been there before. One door closes, another one opens. In the end, in this job, it is just a difficult job. You are in the public eye; things can happen, and you just have to deal with that.

“I’m not saying that it’s nice to deal with it, but it’s part of it. I think Otmar will be over it pretty quick. As I said he has been there before, and these things they happen, it’s part of our life as a team principal.” recommends

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Szafnauer has since weighed in his axing, revealing Alpine’s parent company wanted too much control over the team.

“The parent company wanted to have a lot of control in a lot of areas of the racing team,” he told SiriusXM’s Cars & Culture with Jason Stein.

“More than I’ve ever seen before. You know, the commercial area, the marketing area, HR, finance, communication, all that stuff reported not to me, but around me, to somebody else in the bigger organisation, and they all act like a navy, and we have to be pirates in order to win.”

He added: “I think the senior management at Renault, the CEO, Luca de Meo, wants, as everyone does in Formula 1, success instantly and unfortunately, that’s not how it works in Formula 1.

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