Sky F1 pit-lane reporter Ted Kravitz cannot fathom why Alpine chose to announce the exits of Otmar Szafnauer and Alan Permane during the Belgian GP weekend, unless they actually did want maximum attention.
Following the recent announcement that Laurent Rossi had been replaced in the Alpine CEO role, the confirmation that chief technical officer Pat Fry would move to Williams in that same role was followed by the axing of team principal Otmar Szafnauer and sporting director Alan Permane.
With Szafnauer out the door after the Belgian Grand Prix, Bruno Famin, who was recently promoted to the Alpine Motorsports vice president role, will then take over his duties on an interim basis.
Ted Kravitz feels Renault “need to be seen”
Kravitz suggested the folk at Alpine were very much trying to keep a low profile with the media in Belgium, which then made him question why they would break the news in the middle of a race weekend if they did not want the attention.
The only explanation he could think of then is that parent brand Renault did want to generate attention and “make the biggest splash possible” as they set about trying to reroute the ship after what has been a very disappointing F1 2023 campaign so far for Alpine.
“This is a team in crisis,” said Kravitz on his ‘Ted’s Notebook’ programme.
“So Bruno Famin was appointed above Otmar Szafnauer a few weeks ago. Now, when that happened, we all knew something was up.
“So given that there have been rumours that Otmar Szafnauer’s time as team principal of Alpine was not going to be particularly long, why did they wait until in the middle of a Grand Prix weekend to announce it?
“They obviously parted ways, they did a deal where I assume, and we haven’t had this confirmed, that there was a financial settlement which allowed them to say that it was by mutual agreement that their contracts were terminated with Otmar and Alain Permane.
“So with that all in place, why not announce it on the Wednesday before we got here, so that it would have been the story on the Thursday, and then by today, Friday, it would have been all forgotten?
“And then why, or if you really want to bury bad news, why not wait until Monday, which is the beginning of the summer shutdown, when everybody in Formula 1 is on their holidays?
“The media will report it, but they wouldn’t be here to interview anyone and point cameras in Bruno Famin’s face and Esteban Ocon. They’re feeling uncomfortable by being so much in the spotlight, why not do it on Monday? I don’t get it.
“Unless, they wanted to make the biggest splash possible in showing that they’re taking strong action and decisive action in removing elements that they think are not going to help them get to their goals.
“That’s the only explanation that it could be. They need to be seen, Renault, to be taking decisive action.
“So that’s the only logical conclusion as to why they didn’t do the old summer break press release.”
Alpine went into the Belgian Grand Prix weekend P6 in the Constructors’ Championship, 40 points behind McLaren.