Szafnauer provides more detail about Aston exit

Jon Wilde
Otmar Szafnauer smiles during the Bahrain Grand Prix. Bahrain, March 2022.

Alpine's Otmar Szafnauer smiles on the grid during the Bahrain Grand Prix. Bahrain, March 2022.

Otmar Szafnauer has opened up at length for the first time about the reasons for his departure from Aston Martin.

The Romania-born 57-year-old had been team principal at Aston Martin and their previous incarnations, having joined the Silverstone-based operation in 2009 and been a key part of their success in recent seasons.

But rumours began to emerge last November that a parting of the ways could be imminent, with Szafnauer specifically linked to a similar role at Alpine.

Over the winter, that is exactly what transpired. Szafnauer’s exit from Aston Martin was announced in January and the following month he joined Alpine, along with sponsor BWT.

Alpine' Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon in action. Bahrain March 2022.
Alpine's Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon in action during the Bahrain Grand Prix. March 2022.

Until recently, Szafnauer had only drip-fed information about the background to his move, notably referring to his perception of there having been “two Popes” presiding over the Lawrence Stroll-owned Aston Martin team. But now the floodgates have opened.

Martin Whitmarsh’s arrival as Group CEO of Aston Martin Performance Technologies was clearly a factor in Szafnauer’s exit.

“Once it became clear the management structure was going to be as such, I didn’t have the influence I thought I should have with Martin coming in,” said Szafnauer, quoted by GP Fans.

“They made it very clear to me the responsibilities I used to have before were never given back. Once I learned that then it was really time to look [elsewhere].

“It was at the last race [in Abu Dhabi last year] I was told ‘you used to be able to run the team but you’re not running it anymore’.

“I had a contract, I had no reason to leave. Had the responsibilities not been taken away from me, I would have stayed.”

Fortunately for Szafnauer, an alternative offer was not long in arriving – and Alpine told him just what he had hoped to hear.

“All my discussions with the seniors [at Alpine] said the reason they wanted me to come was because of all my experience in Formula 1 and to apply that to Alpine and help us in the aim to win races,” he explained.

“When the fellows that are hiring you say that, you feel very confident that’s what they are hiring you for and they want your experience. That’s why I went with the experience.”


So far, Alpine have made a considerably better start to the new season than Aston Martin having collected 16 points from the first two races, putting them fourth in the Constructors’ table.

Aston Martin, with Mike Krack having been appointed as Szafnauer’s successor, are yet to get off the mark.


Szafnauer explains Aston Martin exit

Otmar Szafnauer has opened up at length for the first time about his departure from Aston Martin.