Fernando Alonso tells Otmar Szafnauer ‘not to talk at all’ after falling short of targets

Jamie Woodhouse
Fernando Alonso and Otmar Szafnauer side-by-side.

Fernando Alonso and Otmar Szafnauer side-by-side graphic.

Considering the gulf in fortunes between Alpine and Fernando Alonso’s new team Aston Martin in F1 2023, the Spaniard feels it was “incredible” that Otmar Szafnauer continued to talk with pride about their parting of ways.

Alonso made his return to Formula 1 with Alpine for the 2021 campaign, the team with which he won his two World titles in 2005 and 2006.

But as F1 2022 ‘silly season’ got underway and Alonso was yet to extend his contract with the team, his switch to Aston Martin from F1 2023 was announced, with now former Alpine team boss Szafnauer having cited Alonso’s age as a reason for reluctance to offer the multi-year extension which he wanted, with Pierre Gasly signed as Alonso’s replacement.

Fernando Alonso tells Otmar Szafnauer “be quiet”

It is safe to say that Alonso has come out the better from this particular split, Aston Martin having surged from the lower midfield to challenging for ‘best of the rest’ status behind Red Bull in F1 2023, Alonso having scored six podium finishes.

Szafnauer meanwhile was shown the door at Formula 1’s most recent outing in Belgium, alongside veteran sporting director Alan Permane, with Alpine P6 in the Constructors’ standings and having failed to make the jump in performance which rivals Aston Martin and McLaren have achieved.

And speaking to the BBC before Szafnauer’s sacking was confirmed, Alonso said this differing of fortunes between the teams was grounds for all talk to fall silent.

“I don’t think I felt disrespected, but it is true it took longer than I thought when we started conversations – I think it was in Australia back in [April] 2022 – about renewing the contract,” said Alonso.

“It was just on a very slow pace, and it was not from my side. I was just ready and happy. The 2022 car was a fast car so I was also happy with the performance and the possibilities into the future.

“So that slow pace of conversations and eventually not even putting on paper what we were writing and all these comments about the age and whatever, which they [Laurent Rossi, former Alpine CEO and Szafnauer] are still doing.

“It is the way they do things. Or the way Otmar does things. Because after this year, he should be quiet. He should not talk at all. After the results of Aston Martin and the results he’s achieving, he’s still talking and still proud of the decision, which is incredible, amazing.”

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Alonso said he took the doubts over his age and therefore ongoing performance levels “a little bit personal”, and used it for motivation to prove that at 42, he is still at the peak of his driving powers.

And he believes the results achieved so far at Aston Martin have done the talking for him.

Asked if he reckons Alpine underestimated what he offered the team, Alonso replied: “100%. And still do.

“When you are doing the best you can every weekend, when I did so many things for Renault as well, you take a little bit personal when someone is doubting your performance or your age or these kinds of things.

“And you just want to prove even extra hard that you are in the best moment of your career. The results, they speak for themselves, and that’s the best way.”

Alonso currently sits P3 in the F1 2023 Drivers’ Championship, with Aston Martin holding that same position in the Constructors’ standings.

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