Alpine F1 team principal Otmar Szafnauer has spoken in more detail about his comments earlier this year about his former team Aston Martin Racing, where his statement regarding leaving the Silverstone based team appeared somewhat controversial in context to the latest whispers of a team in crisis under Lawrence Stroll.
Otmar Szafnauer left Aston Martin to join Alpine F1 in February 2022 as team boss, reporting directly to Alpine CEO Laurent Rossi. The American was reunited with Frenchman Esteban Ocon, with whom he had worked in the past at Racing Point. On why he left his position at Aston Martin to join Alpine, Szafnauer told the media in March:
“The Catholic Church only has one pope – and when you have two popes, it’s just not right. So I think it was time to go and leave Aston Martin to their one pope.”
Although at the time some took these comments as being aimed directly at Aston Martin’s owner, billionaire Lawrence Stroll, Otmar Szafnauer was at pains to clarify what he meant when he spoke of “one pope”. Lawrence Stroll is said to be attempting to personally take charge of Aston Martin F1’s decision making process in an attempt to strong arm the Silverstone based team back from crisis.
“People ask me who that pope was – well, you know, it wasn’t Lawrence [Stroll], because everybody has a boss,” the American explained in an interview with the world championship website. Clearly, Otmar had left Aston Martin prior to the disaster of this year.
“But once they brought in Martin Whitmarsh [current group chief executive], that was the other pope I was talking about. For both of us to sit in the same space and try to do the same thing, it doesn’t really work. But it wasn’t about Lawrence. Lawrence is still the owner and the boss there. I have a boss here, Laurent [Rossi], and everything is understood and clear, and that’s how it should be.”
The Alpine team is currently (prior to round six of the world championship) sixth in the constructors’ standings, five points behind Alfa Romeo.