Szafnauer: Alonso and Vettel are ‘very similar’ to work with

Henry Valantine
Sebastian Vettel fist bumps with Fernando Alonso. Saudi Arabia December 2021.

Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso greet each other at their pre-race press conference. Saudi Arabia December 2021.

Having worked with both drivers, Otmar Szafnauer is in a good position to compare how Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel go about their business.

The Alpine team principal moved to the team just weeks before the start of the new season, after departing Aston Martin because he knew he would no longer have the “influence” he once did with the arrival of Martin Whitmarsh above him.

But what this has done is offer Szafnauer the chance to work with two of Formula 1’s most successful drivers, so he was naturally asked about how they work within a team and, while they share some of the same traits, there are other areas in which they differ – but all with the same goal in mind.

“They are very similar,” Szafnauer told AS. “Different in personality, but similar in their requests to be able to go faster, about what they do.

“I think Sebastian has more detailed feedback, but Fernando focuses on those things that will give him more performance from the start, the big stuff, whereas Sebastian studies the big stuff and then gets into the details.

“There are differences, but their desire to win and improve performance is the same.”

Alonso has looked as fast as ever at the start of 2022, but his Alpine future may come under scrutiny in the coming months as Formula 2 champion Oscar Piastri waits in the wings, while team-mate Esteban Ocon’s future is secured with the team beyond the end of the year.

The 40-year-old has made no secret of his desire to carry on in Formula 1 beyond the end of 2022, and Szafnauer has been impressed with what he has seen from the double World Champion.

“It’s the first time I’ve worked with him,” he said. “I like the fact that he is ultra-competitive, he pushes to improve the car, but also to be faster, him and the people around him.


“He still has the hunger of champions, that’s something I love, and he’s also very talented. He gets a lap out of the car very quickly, possibly quicker than anyone I’ve worked with.

“It’s a talent that not many people have, he does. He’s also very good on Sundays, in the race. We have a great combination with Esteban, who is younger.”


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