Axing Otmar Szafnauer without a permanent team boss in place, Martin Brundle says he “wouldn’t be surprised” if former Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto got the job.
Binotto walked away from Formula 1 at the end of last season when the Italian handed in his resignation after a disappointing season in which Ferrari went from leading the championships to being a distant P2 to Red Bull, the campaign mired in mistakes and reliability failures.
Almost eight months later Szafnauer became the latest team principal to pay the price for a team’s lack of success, Alpine P6 in the standings and 136 points behind their target of P4.
‘Alpine’s sackings were brutal even by F1’s less-than-impressive standards’
The 58-year-old was informed on the eve of the final race before the summer break that he and long-time Enstone employee Alan Permane were out, replaced by interim team boss Bruno Famin and interim sporting director and Alpine Academy director Julian Rouse respectively.
Brundle was shocked, calling the oustings “brutal”.
“I’m still taken aback by their wholesale forced departure of experienced F1 folk, and apparently with more to come,” he wrote in his post-Belgian GP column for Sky Sports. “I must assume there are wise and knowledgeable people incoming that we’ve yet to hear about.
“Publicly binning team boss Otmar Szafnauer and sporting director Alan Permane mid-event while they still had a job to do on the pit wall was brutal even by F1’s less-than-impressive standards in this respect.”
Looking ahead to Alpine’s future, the former driver turned TV pundit says there are already rumours former Ferrari team boss Binotto is being lined up for the team principal job.
“I’ve heard the rumour,” he said on Sky Sports. “This is a funny old place as you know, you can start a rumour just for fun and see how quickly it comes back to you as fact. But it’s not out of the question.
“Binotto has got a lot of experience, obviously in the Ferrari system, and knows about running a Formula 1 team.
“Obviously, it didn’t work out for him at Ferrari otherwise he’d still be there. But I wouldn’t be surprised if that was announced, no.”
Famin though, has already downplayed the Binotto rumours.
“Well, we’re not at that stage,” he told the media including PlanetF1.com.
“I think I’m going to, with all my direct reports, assess what is the situation, think about what are the priorities in Enstone, to consolidate the things and we will define if we need a new structure or not and when that will be done, we will see.”