Otmar Szafnauer reacts to Laurent Rossi’s Alpine exit after recent war of words

Sam Cooper
Otmar Szafnauer and Laurent Rossi of Alpine walk together. Belgium 2022.

Alpine team principal Otmar Szafnauer walks with Alpine CEO Laurent Rossi at Spa. July 2022.

Otmar Szafnauer has spoken for the first time since Laurent Rossi was moved away from the Formula 1 branch of the Alpine team.

Renault opted for change this week as they replaced Laurent Rossi as CEO of the Alpine brand and installed Philippe Krie in his place. Rossi meanwhile has gone to work on the vaguely named ‘special projects’ of Alpine.

It comes after a year of difficulties for Rossi both on and off track with the Alpine team performing below expectations before the former CEO publicly called out team principal Szafnauer. It was an unusual tactic for a CEO but one that Rossi has used in the past.

It is the second staff structure change Renault have made recently with Bruno Famin appointed as vice-president of Alpine Motorsports earlier this month and will now oversee the F1 project.

Renault did not elaborate as to why Rossi had been relieved of his duties but one man whose life will have got a little easier is Szafnauer.

Speaking for the first time since the decision was made public, Szafnauer said the changes will have no “impact whatsoever” on his role.

“I’ll start with my management, it shouldn’t have an impact whatsoever,” he told media in Budapest. “I’ve been there for about a year and a half now and the plans that I’ve already put in place, we’re going to continue to pursue the infrastructure that we’ve embarked on, we’re continuing to pursue some of the hires that we’re looking for some like minded individuals, that’s still happening.

“Bruno’s been with us for over a year in Viry and also in endurance racing and IndyCar and this just adds Formula 1. So it’s not really that big of a change and then on the corporate side, there’s a new CEO of Alpine cars whose focus will be in cars and not Formula 1.”

F1 was very much part of Rossi’s remit when he was in the role but Szafnauer did not directly comment on their time together, instead confirming he will have no future involvement with the team.

“I’ve been told that he’s moving to special projects and no more than that but I don’t think his involvement will be Formula 1,” Szafnauer said.

Later in the press conference, Szafnauer stressed that new CEO Krie will have no involvement with the F1 organisation but said that was a decision made from a business perspective rather than a sporting one.

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“Everybody wants to do better and we wanted to be fourth this year. We’re still working hard to make sure that we can be at least the fourth fastest team by the end of the year,” he said.

“As for the Formula 1 team and the new management structure, the new Alpine CEO will not have any input into the Formula 1 bit of it. So that change was made mainly from an Alpine business perspective, not from a Formula 1 perspective.”
Szafnauer also rejected the notion that the new hires came lacking in F1 and motorsport experience.

“We don’t know each other that well but I’ve been doing this for 26 years now in Formula 1 and 33 years of motorsport. So I think we have enough Formula 1 experience and if you look beyond me and the team that we have there, we’re very experienced at Enstone. So absolutely, I believe we have the experience element of it.”

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