Alpine boss replaced before Imola

Otmar Szafnauer has been in and around Formula One for some 25 years. Having worked for the Ford Motor company since 1986, the Romanian/American left to head up operations for the FD1 British America Racing team in 1998.

Since that time Szafnauer has worked for Honda and most notably Force India who he represented in a variety of roles from 2009.



Szafnauer ousted at Aston

When Aston Martin bought the team it was all change in Silverstone and the subsequent recruitment of McLaren’s ex-team principal Martin Whitmarsh in oversight of Szafnauer appeared to be the final straw.

Otmar left the team principal role with Aston and switched immediately to the same role with Alpine in 2022 who had been rebranded the previous year from Renault F1.

The glide path of the Enstone team was upward as they finished fifth in the constructors the year before Szafnauer joined and the American oversaw the last dash push in Abu Dhabi to see the team into fourth at the season final last year in Abu Dhabi.

Alpine’s CEO Laurent Rossi has received the backing from Renault for a four year programme he called the “100 race project.”

Schumacher race seat available



Alpine “100 race project”

“We have a long-term project, the objective is to reach a level of competitiveness that places us on the podium as many times as possible in 2024,” Rossi told back in October 2021. 

“From today in fifth, you can easily find a roadmap. It’s going to be every year a bit better. It’s a 100-race project, four years, four seasons.”

At the time Rossi’s targets were questionable given that in Formula One there is no team that delivers a consistent linear path of progression. 

“Every race we must make progress. It can be progress you see on the track or progress you don’t see, all the little details. The idea is to never stop – and be able to see we’re going in the right direction.”

“All we want is to make sure we have a satisfactory level of performance when we start, which doesn’t put us too far from the top, And then from there, we can carry on our climb to the summit.”



Szafnaeur confirms Rossi goals

Alpine came unscathed through the biggest F1 regulation changes ever at the start of 2022 and Otmar Szafnauer set incremental progression as their goal for 2023.

“We have to get one step closer to our goal of winning a championship in 100 races,” Szafnauer said at the team’s car launch.

“And I think we’re down to less than 80 now. The 100 started in early 2022. So it’s less than 80 from now.

“We have to continue like this, but get closer to third place. So we have to be closer to third place than fifth. So even if we stay fourth, we have to make progress.”

Marko reveals Mercedes influencing the FIA



Alpine now fighting for P6

Yet five races into this season, the 100 race project appears to be in tatters as Alpine battle for P5/P6 with McLaren rather than ‘getting close to P3’.

The team is facing a reality check because with just 14 points on the board the season’s hope for improvement on 2022 is already over and Laurent Rossi is demanding to know why.

The Alpine CEO has described the current performance as “unacceptable” and accused the team of behaving in an “amateurish” fashion.



Rossi names Szafnauer in public

Further Rossi has set his sights on his team principal who he is holding to account.

“He is responsible for the performance of the team – that’s his job,” Rossi told

“Otmar was brought in to steer the team, through the season and the next seasons towards the objectives that we have, which is to constantly make progress, as we did in the first two years – fifth and fourth – and to get to the podiums and therefore, this is his mission to turn this team around and bring it to the performance that we want.

“We had a team that performed reasonably well last year, got the fourth position which is the best improvement we had in a long time. It showed a lot of promise.

Horner taunts Mercedes and Ferrari



Same Alpine team very different results

“It’s more of less the same people so I don’t accept that we are not capable of maintaining that.

“Yes, it is Otmar and the rest of his team as Otmar alone doesn’t do everything, but the buck stops with Otmar. It’s Otmar’s responsibility, yes.”

Rossi is still demanding Alpine push for P4 this year, though with Ferrari having started woefully yet having a 64 point lead over the French team it appears delusional to cling to this target.

“I don’t enter a competition and reset my objective because it’s easier,” he said.



Rossi threatens heads will roll soon

“The team managed to get fourth. They have the means to get fourth, more so than others. I want them to be fourth. If they don’t, it’s going to be a failure.

“If they fail by giving 500% best and turning this ship around, there will be extenuating circumstances and it bodes well for the future. If not, it’s the rule of business, there’s going to be consequences. 

“And I won’t wait until the end of the year. 

This remarkable outburst which names Szafnauer as “responsible” can only mean one thing. Laurent Rossi is looking for a scapegoat with the Renault motor company main board for the failure of his 100 race project.

Given the public lambasting, it is hard to see Szafnauer being still in charge come the next Grand Prix 10 days from now in Imola.

READ MORE: Mercedes concerned over BIG Imola upgrade

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.