Otmar Szafnauer has opened up – to an extent – on the reasons for his move from Aston Martin to Alpine, saying it was “better I looked elsewhere”.
Rumours had first surfaced in the first half of November that Szafnauer’s days as Aston Martin boss might be numbered, with the speculation immediately linking him to Alpine.
Over the course of the off-season, both teams announced various managerial and commercial changes – and the final piece of the jigsaw to fall into place was Szafnauer’s appointment in the same team principal role he had vacated at Aston Martin some six weeks earlier.
The 57-year-old Romanian-American had been with the Silverstone-based team in their various guises since October 2009 and has indicated he felt the time was right for a change.
Referring to when he had been asked about the rumours at the point they first emerged and had denied them, Szafnauer told reporters: “At that point, there was no intention of leaving.
“But as time moved on and things changed at Aston, I thought it was better for all parties that I looked elsewhere.”
Working under Laurent Rossi, the Alpine CEO, Szafnauer moved into the team after Marcin Budkowski, the executive director, had departed.
He is part of a management structure that also comprises Pat Fry, Matt Harman and Alan Permane, while Davide Brivio is now taking on a broader role not only related to F1.
“I’m really enjoying it,” said Szafnauer, who was replaced in his Aston Martin role by Mike Krack.
“This (Friday) is my sixth day. I spent a few days at the factory, I tried to walk around and meet as many people as I can really in the first few days.
“I was pleasantly surprised to see a lot of faces I knew there from my past, be it from Honda or British American Racing, even Force India. I know how the people are.
“[There’s] great potential, like-minded people pulling in the same direction and wanting to do well. They have a great history there.
“They have won before, good infrastructure, so I really look forward to working with them all.”
Szafnauer, of course, is already used to working with driver Esteban Ocon, the duo having been together at Aston Martin’s previous guise of Force India in 2017 and 2018.
However, Alpine, who also have Fernando Alonso for a second year, will hope to fare better when the serious action gets under way than in what has amounted to a fairly underwhelming pre-season for them.
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