Otmar Szafnauer pays visit to former team as F1 reunion rumours ignite

Jamie Woodhouse
Alpine's Otmar Szafnauer at the Hungarian Grand Prix. Budapest, July 2023.

Alpine's Otmar Szafnauer at the Hungarian Grand Prix. Budapest, July 2023.

Axed Alpine team boss Otmar Szafnauer was reportedly seen paying Aston Martin a visit before he departed the Spa-Francorchamps paddock.

Alpine dropped the bombshell announcement on the Friday of the Belgian GP weekend that it would be Szafnauer’s last with the team, with sporting director Alan Permane, who’s tenure with Team Enstone had stretched across more than three decades, also given the boot.

Bruno Famin, recently named the vice president of Alpine Motorsports, will take over Szafnauer’s duties on an interim basis.

Otmar Szafnauer plotting Aston Martin comeback?

Aston Martin were the team which Szafnauer left in order to join Alpine ahead of the 2022 campaign, his association with the team stretching all the way back to 2009 as he joined the Silverstone squad then known as Force India.

Szafnauer used his “two popes” analogy, a reference to the hiring of Martin Whitmarsh as Aston Martin CEO, as reason for leaving the team as he saw his influence weakening.

But, at his final race weekend in Alpine colours, Sky Germany claim to spot Szafnauer visiting Aston Martin hospitality. Was he there to say goodbye to his ex-team-mates, or put the feelers out for a return to the team?

He was staying rather tight-lipped on that subject when he spoke to Sky Germany.

“I will not comment,” he said. “As you can see, my adventure at Alpine has just ended.

“Now I can join a new team from now on. Let’s wait and see.”

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What Szafnauer did dismiss as “fake news” though was the suggestion that he had left the Spa paddock ahead of Sunday’s race, with footage emerging on social media claiming to show him making his early exit from the circuit.

Alpine confirmed as much, telling PlanetF1.com’s Sam Cooper that the footage was of Szafnauer leaving an F1 Experiences event, and not the track.

“That’s the beauty of Formula 1, people invent things and there is fake news everywhere,” Szafnauer told Sky Germany.

“I didn’t leave the track, I was here the whole time. I was at the command post, helping with strategy decisions and making sure we got some good points.”

Szafnauer’s now former team Alpine sit P6 in the F1 2023 Constructors’ standings, 46 points behind McLaren a position ahead.

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