Sky F1 pundit’s observation suggests Alpine dramas may not be over

Jamie Woodhouse
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

Sky F1 pundit Naomi Schiff believes no Alpine team member will be confident that their job is safe after the recent senior staff exodus, a belief shared by ex-F1 racer Martin Brundle.

Alpine dropped the bombshell mid-Belgian GP race weekend that team boss Otmar Szafnauer had been given his marching orders, with Team Enstone veteran Alan Permane also showed the door.

The team’s chief technical officer Pat Fry meanwhile confirmed that he will move to Williams to take on that same position.

Naomi Schiff reckons everyone at Alpine will be worried

These announcements came just a week after Laurent Rossi was removed from the Alpine CEO role, so with the off-track chaos now in-keeping with a below par season for Alpine on it, Schiff believes nobody in the team will be feeling safe.

“I can’t imagine that anyone at Alpine right now is feeling very relaxed or very safe in their positions,” Schiff told Sky F1.

“I mean, even the news of Lauren Rossi came as somewhat of a surprise, at least for those of us in the paddock, and then to hear this information as well.

“You’ve got to think, those are three really key people in terms of their senior leadership. These are people making big decisions about the team and they didn’t trust them enough to keep them around.

“So it’s going to be very destabilising for the team, particularly in the fact that all of this is happening midseason at a time where the team isn’t moving forwards at the moment.

“So all this change is definitely going to cause a wave of shock and a wave of change, so it’s going to be interesting to see how the rest of the season plays itself out for them because of this.”

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Brundle backs that suggestion that the feeling of job security will be extremely low right now throughout Alpine, as he proceeded to reel off the list of recent high-profile departures from the team.

Even down to the drivers, it was only last year that Fernando Alonso bid the team farewell to join rivals Aston Martin, while Oscar Piastri then sensationally snubbed the chance to replace him and instead moved to McLaren.

“It’s quite bizarre, especially in the middle of a season,” said Brundle.

“But Marcin Budkowski [ex-Alpine F1 executive director] left 18 months ago, Alain Prost [ex-non-executive director] was pushed away, now Otmar Szafnauer, Alan Permane, tremendous guy, I worked with him in Benetton, he’d been there 34 years.

“Pat Fry is leaving to go to Williams, they lost Piastri last year when they thought they’d got him. Alonso left to go to Aston Martin. The list just goes on and on and on.

“So quite alarming, I would say especially others in the team are going to start looking over their shoulder thinking, ‘Oh, how secure are we now?'”

Alpine sit P6 in the current Constructors’ standings, 46 points adrift of McLaren a place ahead.

Read next: Otmar Szafnauer reveals the exact Renault disagreement that led to Alpine departure