The recent Belgian Grand Prix was punctuated by a significant departure as Otmar Szafnauer ended his ties with team Alpine. The fallout was said to be due to a conflict with the sportscar manufacturer’s executives over the timeline for achieving a win in Formula 1.
Szafnauer, with years of expertise in the field, felt victory would likely be realized by 2026. However, Alpine‘s higher-ups were convinced of attaining this goal much quicker. Given this profound difference in the strategic visions for the team, both mutually agreed to part ways with immediate effect.
The F1 community was stunned by Szafnauer’s exit which came barely over a year after joining the team. This shock was augmented when Alpine confirmed that Alan Permane, the team’s highly-regarded sporting director, would also be departing.
Working previously together at the Racing Point squad, Perez felt Szafnauer’s exit was precipitated because constructing success in F1 is a long-term process. Perez stated, “I think I was quite surprised with it, given how short notice it was.”
Further expressing his sentiments, Perez added, “I think Otmar is great, any person in that position, you’ve got to give them time. I think Otmar lacked time to really show his potential, which I know is huge because I’ve seen what he’s done in other teams with very limited budgets and with not-so-limited budgets as well.”
While Szafnauer’s departure from Alpine has garnered sympathy, not all voices in the paddock echo the sentiment. Fernando Alonso indicated that Szafnauer should not take pride in how he managed events at Alpine. Alonso himself left the team for Aston Martin following delays in finalizing a contract for this year and beyond.
Alonso, in a discussion with the BBC about Alpine‘s handling of the contract discussions, said: “It was just on a very slow pace, and it was not from my side…So that slow pace of conversations and eventually not even putting on paper what we were writing and all these comments about the age and whatever, which they are still doing…After this year, he should be quiet. After the results of Aston Martin and the results he’s achieving, he’s still talking and still proud of the decision, which is incredible, amazing.”