Szafnauer on Stroll: Two popes, that’s not possible

Sam Cooper
Otmar Szafnauer, Lawrence Stroll, Aston Martin

Former Aston Martin team principal Otmar Szafnauer hinted it was impossible to work under team owner Lawrence Stroll.

The 57-year-old left Aston Martin to join Alpine in the off-season after spending 12 years at the team. Having joined in 2009, he found himself with a new boss in August 2018 when a consortium led by Stroll purchased the team and rebranded it as Racing Point.

The pair worked together for three years but Szafnauer has now suggested Stroll’s hands-on approach was the main factor in his decision to look for pastures new.

“Two popes, that’s not possible,” he is reported as saying to F1TV during the Bahrain test.

While he did not go on to name Stroll directly, he did compare the working styles of the Canadian to the team’s previous owner Vijay Mallya.

“The former racing team owner Vijay Mallya came to the racing car factory maybe four days a year to keep up to date,” he said.

“But he left the work per se completely to us. It was a different way of working than under Stroll, and it didn’t work that way.”

Under Szafnauer’s leadership, Racing Point finished seventh in the Constructors’ Championship in their debut season before huge improvement saw them reach fourth in 2020.

Aston Martin were unable to hit similar heights in their first season following the rebrand but Szafnauer said he would miss the people at the Silverstone factory.

“I have kept a great relationship with the men and women at Silverstone,” he said.

“In my 12 years there, I have more than doubled the size of the team. I will miss these people.”

The Romanian-American now has the task of trying to beat his old team and the Alpine car looks to have overcome its porpoising issues ahead of the Bahrain Grand Prix this weekend.

“The good news is we didn’t have it so much during the test. We changed some things on the car, not only the ride height,” he said.

“In our simulations we couldn’t see it, or it didn’t happen. And it wasn’t really something all the designers, the chief designers and aerodynamicists, had in mind to pay attention to. It didn’t show up until the tests.

“That shows that even with all the simulation tools we have, there is nothing that compares to reality.


“But I think the more we learn about how we set up the car, the closer we get to a solution.

“And the more you learn, the more you can make design changes to solve the problem. I wonder if that will happen quickly. I think the worse the problem is, the more motivated we will be to fix it.”

He will also be looking to make his car lighter but has warned that “will cost money.”


Otmar Szafnauer departs role of Aston Martin team boss

Otmar leaves the team he had been a part of since 2009.