Otmar Szafnauer, operating from the scenic Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium, confirmed his departure from Alpine, citing differences in the projected goals of the Formula One team. He iterated his belief that the aim to evolve Alpine into a consistent F1 winner preceding 2026 is an unrealistic ambition.
In light of this, Bruno Famin, the freshly appointed VP of Alpine Motorsports, articulated that this break-up was over discrepancies in expectations. Famin stated that the team and the departing members did not sync up on “the timeline to recover the level or to reach the level of performance we are aiming for.”
Szafnauer’s appointment to Alpine came in February of 2022 with the clear mandate of turning the aspiring F1 team into consistent winners within 100 races, a timeline extending roughly to 2026. As recently as the Sunday’s Hungarian Grand Prix, Szafnauer, the exemplary American team executive, proclaimed his confidence in fulfilling his commitment.
When questioned on the course of events that led to the change, Szafnauer shared with F1 Initiative, “Well, we had a double DNF in Hungary. Not great, but… Anyway. The thing that really changed is I had a timeline in mind for changing the team, making it better.”
Elaborating on the friction, he said, “That timeline, I thought it was realistic, because I know what it takes. I’ve done it before. I think some of the senior management at Renault had a shorter timeline in mind.”
In response to whether the crunched-up timeline is unachievable, Szafnauer responded with a firm, “I think so.”
In support of his belief, he cited, “I’ve always said, Mercedes took five years from buying a winning team. Red Bull took five years from buying Jag, which was a pretty solid mid-grid team. It takes time. That’s what it takes.”
If the viewpoints can’t align, then the best possible outcome is to part ways, remarked Szafnauer.
Despite his separation from F1 until July 2024, Szafnauer maintains that he still has plenty to offer to the motorsport.
Given the time and economy to work, he conveyed his belief in his capabilities, “This is what I know. I still think I have good skills in building a team that can perform. I know how to do it I just need to be given the latitude and the time to do it. If somebody needs those skills then I’ll stay around.”
These developments, atop the back of Laurent Rossi being displaced from his CEO position and the subsequent installation of Phillipe Krief, indicate a phase of significant changes for Alpine.