Rumor: Aston Martin’s departed Otmar Szafnauer linked with Alpine move (5th Update)

(GMM) Alain Prost has all but confirmed that Otmar Szafnauer will be Alpine’s new team principal.

Szafnauer has departed from the same position at Aston Martin, and it is now rumoured that he is taking major sponsor BWT with him to the Renault-owned competitor.

“The team will compete with some new faces, and why not?”? said F1 legend Prost, who has left his role as Alpine advisor after a dispute with CEO Laurent Rossi.

As for Szafnauer, however, the quadruple world champion insisted: “I like Otmar – if he comes.

“But we have to remember that all of the hard work is done by the people in Viry and Enstone. I don’t mind change, but what I don’t like is the lack of respect.”

Prost, 66, says he was actually offered the role of “president of Alpine F1” from Renault CEO Luca de Meo towards the end of 2020.

However, boss Cyril Abiteboul’s departure then put that move “on stand-by”.

“The 2021 season was disruptive,” Prost said. “Too complicated.”

As for how Alpine’s new structure – with Szafnauer at the helm – will serve the Renault-owned team, Prost is not sure.

“This direction will be judged by the results of the next two years,” he said.

January 13, 2022 

It looks like Otmar Szafnauer will take Marcin Budkowski’s Executive Director position at Alpine.

Budkowski has left his position as executive director of the Alpine Formula 1 team it was announced today.

“I would like to thank Marcin Budkowski for his commitment and contribution to the team’s results over the last four years,” said Rossi.

“The team is fully focused on getting the car ready for the first race in Bahrain and deliver a step beyond in performance.”

Marcin Budkowski (POL) former Alpine F1 Team Executive Director.

Budkowski has been touted as a possible target for Aston Martin to replace Szafnauer.

“I truly enjoyed being part of the leadership team of Renault then Alpine F1 Team, working with such a talented and dedicated group of people,” said Budkowski.

“I will be watching the team’s progress fondly in the seasons to come.”

January 5, 2022 

Aston Martin Team Statement:

Otmar Szafnauer has left the Company and his role at Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One Team will be managed within the leadership team until a replacement is appointed.

We would like to thank him for the service provided to the team over the past 12 years and wish him well for the future as he will undoubtedly take on new challenges.

Fortunately, we are led and managed by a strong group of individuals, and we are comfortable to take a little time to explore options before announcing a new team structure. The focus of the team is currently on preparing the most competitive car possible for the start of the 2022 season.

November 12, 2021 

Otmar Szafnauer has once again played down questions over his future with the Aston Martin Formula 1 team amid rumors of a switch to Alpine.

The current Aston Martin F1 team principal was put in front of the media on Friday in the FIA press conference where he once again rejected any suggestions that he’s set to join Alpine.

“I too read those rumors a couple of days ago and I was as surprised as anybody else,” he said.

Otmar Szafnauer, Team Principal and CEO, Aston Martin F1

“But I just want to say it’s always humbling and flattering for people to say ‘Oh if Alpine are reorganizing’ – I think Laurent Rossi said that in Mexico and for the media to speculate that I could be wanted there, it’s always nice to be wanted.”

Szafnauer was then pressed as to where he thought the rumors came from, where he replied: “The first I saw was AutoHebdo and not being French I don’t know who they are, but I think it was translated into English from what my colleagues in the press office tell me.

“I think I was sitting next to Laurent Rossi when McEvoy asked if Aston Martin were recruiting a CEO to take my job, and I knew nothing of that and jokingly Rossi said ‘Oh if you’re leaving, come talk to us’ and that was about it. I don’t know if that’s what sparked the AutoHebdo article.”

“I’ve been at the team for 12 years, I’ve no intention of leaving,” he added. I love this team, most of the senior managers – especially through Racing Point – and the senior leadership team was recruited and put there by myself and I have no intentions of leaving them.

“I’ve been loyal to this team – I’ve had many, many offers in the 12 years I’ve been working for this team, especially in the days of the bankruptcy and insolvency. I could have left many times, but I’m loyal to the employees there.

“I’m always reticent to disclose contractual details, but I can tell you I have a long-term contract in place with Aston.”

Szafnauer confirmed that he hasn’t yet spoken to Stroll about the speculation.

“Asked me for a clarification? No, he wasn’t in Mexico, he’s not here – he wasn’t feeling well,” he concluded. “I’m sure I’ll catch up with him during the weekend, but no we haven’t talked about rumors. There’s lots of stuff that goes on in the media that we don’t talk about.”

November 11, 2021 

Responding to this rumor, Szafnauer posted this reply on Instagram:

“My Aston Martin Cognizant F1 Team communications staff have correctly issued a spokesperson’s statement to the effect that rumors linking me to the Alpine F1 team are merely “speculative conjecture” and that they would not comment, therefore, comment further.

“However, since these rumors have now been sensationalized on certain websites (Autosport went so far as saying he was set for a ‘shock’ switch to Alpine, we were much more subtly) creating a spiral of misinformation, I have taken the decision proactively to confirm hereby that the rumors are pure media speculation and not based on fact.”

A strangely worded statement if we ever saw one. Notice he did not say he is absolutely staying with Aston Martin, which he could have done. We are tempted to up this rumor to ‘strong,’ in light of the fact that Alpine’s racing director Davide Brivio might return to MotoGP for 2022 after deciding that he would prefer a return to two-wheeled racing.

If Brivio does depart, it means that Szafnauer could fulfil more of a team principal role, with Alpine’s executive director Marcin Budkowski taking more responsibility on the racing and technical side.

November 11, 2021 

(GMM) Otmar Szafnauer looks set to leave Aston Martin.

Rumors in the past few days indicated the 57-year-old, the current team principal who also had leading roles in the team’s Racing Point and Force India guises, might be replaced by new Aston Martin recruit Martin Whitmarsh.

Whitmarsh, the long-time top McLaren official, is just part of a major influx of personnel under Lawrence Stroll’s ownership of the Silverstone-based team.

Martin Whitmarsh to replace Szafnauer?

“When Stroll bought the team, he brought in a new movement,” former F1 driver Ralf Schumacher is quoted by Sport1.

“But I’ve said it before – you can’t make a tiger out of a cow overnight. There is just too much unrest there.

“And in my opinion, the Martin Whitmarsh and Otmar Szafnauer duo would not work at all.”

Sebastian Vettel has attracted attention for failing to overly shine in green since leaving Ferrari last year, but Schumacher says the situation isn’t the German’s fault.

“Aston Martin needed a top-class driver and Sebastian is now the better and more consistent of them,” he said, alluding also to Vettel’s teammate Lance Stroll.

“It’s just that the team isn’t doing what it’s supposed to be doing. New people were hired and the resulting unrest may no longer be the right environment for Szafnauer.”

It is believed Szafnauer, who according to sources already shared a tense relationship with Lawrence Stroll, may now be snapped up by Alpine – whose Davide Brivio is believed to be on the cusp of returning to MotoGP.

“I look at everything from top to bottom and from right to left,” said Renault-owned Alpine’s CEO Laurent Rossi.

“We are currently part of the ‘best of the rest’, but to really catch up with the very best, we may need a different structure,” he admitted.


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