Otmar Szafnauer has revealed it was a disagreement over the team’s timeline that led to his sudden departure from Alpine.
The Romanian-American was the talk of the paddock last week when it was announced that both he and long-serving sporting director Alan Permane were to leave the team after the conclusion of the Belgian Grand Prix.
For Szafnauer, it marked an end of a year and a half stay with the French team and he has now detailed just what made him leave Alpine.
Disagreement on progress timeline led to Otmar Szafnauer’s dismissal
Both the timing and the wording of Alpine’s announcement came as a surprise with the team deciding to unveil the news on the Friday before the last grand prix ahead of the summer break and also that Szafnauer had “mutually” agreed to his own sacking.
Szafnauer was asked to stay in place until the events in Spa with him officially leaving his role on Monday and he has since spoken about his sudden exit.
Speaking to Speed City Broadcasting, Szafnauer confirmed that it was mutual as there was a disagreement that proved too much to overcome.
“It was definitely mutual,” the former Racing Point boss said. “I laid out the timelines as to how long it takes in F1 to effect change.
“You know, it’s not a football team — it’s only two [drivers] and 998 technicians, engineers and aerodynamicists, and to change a culture takes time. The timeline wasn’t accepted by the bosses of Renault — they wanted it quicker and that’s what we disagreed upon. So, yeah, mutual.”
Another question is where next for a man whose F1 experience dates back to 1998 and he revealed that while his Alpine contract forbids him from joining a rival, there was one loophole that he could exploit to get back into the sport.
“Not to go into the contractual stuff but I’ve got to stay away from other teams for a year, but not Formula 1 in general,” Szafnauer said.
“I haven’t achieved everything I want to achieve. I was hoping to build a really high-performing team here — I was well on my way to doing it, it’s just unfortunate that all the good people are locked into long-term contracts and they’re all coming in ’24 and ’25. Hopefully they’ll still come but that’s for them to decide now.”
Alpine continue on their 100-race plan which began in 2021 and aims to have them battling for world championships but three years in and they are sixth in the World Constructors’ standings.