Former Alpine team principal Otmar Szafnauer says he can’t work for another Formula 1 team for a year but suggests he could take on another role within the sport.
Szafnauer’s departure from Alpine was confirmed ahead of the Belgian Grand Prix and he has now left his role, alongside long-time sporting director Alan Permane. Part of the mutual agreement reached with Alpine means he is not allowed to work for a rival team over the next 12 months but says that doesn’t mean he can’t take up a different position with another entity in F1.
“Not to go into the contractual stuff but I’ve got to stay away from other teams for a year, but not Formula 1 in general,” Szafnauer told SpeedCity Broadcasting.
“I haven’t achieved everything I want to achieve. I was hoping to build a really high-performing team here — I was well on my way to doing it, it’s just unfortunate that all the good people are locked into long-term contracts and they’re all coming in ’24 and ’25. Hopefully they’ll still come [to Alpine] but that’s for them to decide now.”
Szafnauer reiterated his stance that the split was a mutual one between himself and Renault’s hierarchy, having been unable to agree on a realistic timeframe for success.
“Yeah, it was definitely mutual. I laid out the timelines as to how long it takes in F1 to effect change. You know, it’s not a football team — it’s only two [drivers] and 998 technicians, engineers and aerodynamicists, and to change a culture takes time. The timeline wasn’t accepted by the bosses of Renault — they wanted it quicker and that’s what we disagreed upon. So, yeah, mutual.”
Alpine performed well despite the turmoil in Spa-Francorchamps, with Pierre Gasly third in the sprint and Esteban Ocon climbing to eighth in the Belgian GP, something the latter believes shows the potential within the team.
“I think there’s no better way to go on holidays,” Ocon said. “It was a very strong (sprint) for Pierre and for the team. I’m glad that we secured such a result and then (on Sunday) the fighting spirit we showed is not a coincidence. We are bringing some updates to the car and it’s paying off. That’s what we need to keep on doing — it’s super-encouraging and I hope everyone at Viry and Enstone sees that.”