Otmar Szafnauer, Alpine’s team principal, is full of praise for two-time F1 world champion Fernando Alonso, a man he has come to appreciate working with since the start of the 2022 Formula 1 season, amid continued rumours Red Bull Racing is targeting the Spaniard.
The American Otmar Szafnauer joined Alpine at the beginning of the year to take up the position of team principal within the French manufacturer’s F1 team. He was reunited with Frenchman Esteban Ocon, with whom he had worked in the past at Force India [now Aston Martin], and Spaniard Fernando Alonso, with whom he had never had the opportunity to work with.
Meanwhile, some weeks ago rumours and whispers concerning Alonso’s management conducting talks with Red Bull Racing concerning the Spanish driver potentially joining Max Verstappen and replacing Sergio Perez next year.
Despite this, when asked if he was impressed by Alonso’s working methods, Szafnauer directly compared the two-time world champion to Sebastian Vettel, whom he knows well as the German has been his friend for a number of years now, while the two men also worked together at Aston Martin in 2021.
“He’s at the top, he’s one of the best I’ve worked with. He’s really quick to learn the tracks, give good feedback and adapt to different scenarios or situations on track,” Szafnauer said of Fernando Alonso in an interview with the F1 website.
“He is also an incredible competitor, like some of the others I have worked with – no stone is left unturned. He wants every performance we can get out of the car and out of himself, and that’s just because if you do those things you have a better chance on track. In that respect, he’s a lot like Sebastian [Vettel].”
“I think he motivates people differently to Seb [Vettel], but everyone has their technique. As long as we can just be free of blame, work on the problem and solve it collectively, that’s really what it’s about.”
Fernando Alonso – who made his return to Formula One last year with Alpine after two years on the sidelines – is under contract with the French manufacturer’s team until the end of this season. The two parties will enter into discussions early this summer. No doubt the prospect of Red Bull interest will be a useful tool for Alonso.