Brutal Alpine sack details released as Otmar Szafnauer dishes the dirt

Michelle Foster
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

Six months after his axing, Otmar Szafnauer isn’t holding back in his criticism of Alpine’s higher-ups, revealing they blatantly told him “we don’t have time for this”.

As the Romanian gears up for a potential return to the F1 paddock with Michael Andretti’s Andretti Cadillac, if of course they’re accepted as the sport’s 11th team, Szafnauer isn’t holding back in his criticism of his former bosses.

The 59-year-old, along with Alpine stalwart Alan Permane, was axed on the eve of last year’s Belgian Grand Prix, given just one last race on the pit wall before packing his bags.

Otmar Szafnauer talked progress, but Alpine bosses didn’t agree

That came as a surprise, as while Permane had put in some 30-plus years with the Enstone outfit, Szafnauer was recruited only in February 2022.

Although the team’s higher-ups, at the time led by Laurent Rossi, spoke of a 100-Grand Prix success plan; 36 races after he joined the French squad, Szafnauer was given the boot.

He has now revealed “disagreements” with Alpine’s top brass that led to his 10-day notice period.

“This may sound egotistical but I believe I was doing a good job at Alpine and that I was making the right changes,” he told Motor Sport Magazine.

“I have seen new team leaders make changes for the sake of change, they want to show the owners that they are doing something, making changes for the better.

“The problem is they often don’t understand the changes they’re making. When you walk into a situation like Alpine you first have to get a deep understanding of what you have, what’s good, and what needs changing, but you cannot do that overnight.

“Alpine’s senior bosses wanted success faster than was possible. I told them what was possible, and they said they didn’t have time for that.

“It seems they don’t understand that it takes time to change a culture, to get new skill sets where we didn’t have them. They simply don’t have the technical ability they need.

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“When I got there I told them they needed this stuff and some new people. When you start recruiting you are lucky to get anyone within a year because of their multi-year contracts. And, of course, you need to offer them something they don’t have, like more responsibility.

“I told Alpine I was making progress but their response was always ‘we don’t have time for this.’ That was the cause of our disagreement and I was given less than 10 days warning of their decision that led to my departure at the Belgian GP.”

Szafnauer was replaced by vice president of Alpine Motorsport Bruno Famin who will continue as the F1 team’s principal for the 2024 season.

Szafnauer has been linked to a return to the paddock with Andretti while Permane has been snapped by Red Bull’s junior team, VCARB.

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