Axed Alpine boss Otmar Szafnauer speaks out on the tweet that never was

Michelle Foster
Otmar Szafnauer shakes hands with the Alpine mechanics. Belgium July 2023

Otmar Szafnauer shakes hands with the Alpine mechanics at his final race with the team. Belgium July 2023

Allegedly ‘spotted’ leaving the Spa-Francorchamps circuit before his final race as Alpine’s team principal, Otmar Szafnauer says that video was nothing but “fake news”.

Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix marked the 58-year-old’s final race in charge at Alpine with the team having announced on Friday that both he and sporting director Alan Permane would be leaving after the race weekend.

It brought to an end Szafnauer’s 18-month stint with the team, having joined from Aston Martin.

Otmar Szafnauer: There is fake news everywhere

And it seemed, at least according to a video posted on Twitter an hour before the start of the Spa race, that Szafnauer had opted not to stick around for it.

That wasn’t true with Alpine telling PlanetF1.com’s Sam Cooper that the footage was of Szafnauer leaving an F1 Experiences event, and not the track.

Sky Deutschland asked him about it after the race, the now former team boss replying: “That’s the beauty of Formula 1, people invent things and there is fake news everywhere.

“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.”

Alas Alpine did as while Pierre Gasly had managed to secure a podium with his P3 in Saturday’s Sprint race, he was outside of the points on Sunday. His team-mate Esteban Ocon did at least bring in three for Alpine with his P8 but it was a weekend where once again their deficit to McLaren grew, now up to 46 points.

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As for what comes next for the 58-year-old, he “can’t answer that right now. Hopefully soon in an important role where I can have an impact on a team, where I can put together a great team.

“Everything I wanted to do at Alpine, but the time was too short.”

Before that, though, will come a period of gardening leave that is reportedly set for a year.

“What I miss most is competition,” the former F1 team boss said. “I love to fight others, I’m a fighter. But also all the wonderful people I worked with at Alpine.”

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