Otmar Szafnauer speaks on unkept Alpine promises: ‘30-something is not 100 races’

Thomas Maher
Alpine's former team boss Otmar Szafnauer, and Alpine VP of Motorsport Bruno Famin, now interim team principal.

Alpine's former team boss Otmar Szafnauer, and Alpine VP of Motorsport Bruno Famin, now interim team principal.

Otmar Szafnauer has opened up on his thoughts on Alpine following the split of the Enstone squad with their former team principal.

Just before the F1 summer break at the end of July, Alpine announced the departure of Otmar Szafnauer from his position as team boss as well as sporting director Alan Permane after 34 years of service with the team through their various iterations.

Szafnauer had taken up his post with the Enstone-based team for 2022 after departing from Aston Martin, and said he felt he had not been given sufficient time to mould the team in his image as success didn’t come about immediately.

Otmar Szafnauer: I was made promises that weren’t delivered on

While Alpine had a very respectable 2022 as they came home in fourth place in the Constructors’ Championship despite suffering regular reliability issues, the first half of 2023 proved very difficult.

Aside from a one-off third-place finish with Esteban Ocon in Monaco, the team struggled for reliability and performance, with lower-points places their ceiling as former Alpine CEO Laurent Rossi publicly denounced the on-track achievements of the team.

With Rossi shuffled aside from his role as Luca de Meo and Groupe Renault restructured the organisation, Szafnauer and Alpine parted ways ‘on mutual terms’ as the two sides failed to agree on a timeline to the success of the F1 team.

Having left the F1 paddock after the Belgian Grand Prix, Szafnauer has kept a low profile but has recently spoken about the 18 months in which he was in charge at Alpine.

“It’s unfortunate that I was made some promises that they didn’t deliver on, including giving me 100 races to be competitive and win,” Szafnauer told US publication Boardroom.

Szafnauer was thus at the helm for just 33 races, and the Romanian-born American said he felt it was a breach of integrity that he was only given a third of the time he had been promised.

“I was 30 some races in, and to me, 30-something is not 100,” he explained.

“And I’m a man of my word. When I give my word, it’s what I do, and integrity, which I learned from my father, is everything to me. But it seems like the whole world didn’t learn from him, so there was always ‘promise one thing, do another thing.’”

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With F1 not a sport where success can be achieved overnight with simple swaps of personnel, with some staff changes and signings taking years to even bring about – even before their impact can be felt – Szafnauer said Alpine had failed to recognise the key ingredient that has seen the likes of Red Bull and Mercedes pull off winning streaks.

“That’s why it takes time,” Szafnauer said.

“You can have a plan, but you can’t execute because we don’t have free agents or transfer windows on the aerodynamics, the technologists, or the tyre engineers as you do for drivers when they’re out of contract. Ask Christian [Horner] how he’s done it and he’ll tell you: Continuity.”

Szafnauer stopped short of bad-mouthing his former employers over the handling of his tenure ending, and he explained that his own moral compass hasn’t changed as a result of what happened.

“I learned this a while ago,” he said. “One, you treat people with respect for what they know. You don’t disrespect them for what they don’t know, because all of us know a little about some things. And also, have integrity and respect.”

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