Otmar Szafnauer’s Exit: A New Start for Aston Martin and Alpine?

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2022 brings new regulations and new aspirations for each F1 team. Will Otmar Szafnauer pivot from Aston Martin to Alpine?

Otmar Szafnauer’s Departure Announced

On Wednesday, Aston Martin confirmed the long-expected departure of Team Principal Otmar Szafnauer. Szafnauer has been the mainstay at Force India turned Racing Point turned Aston Martin team over the past 12 years. His exit, coupled with the arrival of former McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh this past October, signals a new start for Aston Martin as it embarks on the 2022 redesigned era of Formula One.

Otmar’s departure was first reported back in November with links to rivals Alpine. At the time in response to the rumors, he stated: “Look, I’ve been at the team for 12 years, I have no intention of leaving, I love this team. Most of the senior leadership team was recruited and put there by myself. I have no intentions of leaving them.”

In the big picture, this fits with Lawrence Stroll’s grand vision of becoming World Championship contenders. He is investing heavily in a new 400,00 square foot Aston Martin campus located near Silverstone that will open next year. Aston Martin has been on a hiring spree as it ramps up the new facility for their new Team Principal, this makes perfect sense as we enter a new era of the sport. Last season, Aston Martin picked up their first podium when Sebastian Vettel finished 2nd at the 2021 Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

Alpine’s 100-Race Project

Meanwhile, on the other side the Szafnauer rumor is Alpine, last season’s 5th place team. Like most teams not named Mercedes or Red Bull, they see 2022 as a chance to change their place in F1’s pecking order. Back in October, Alpine CEO Laurent Rossi set forth the 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. 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.”

Alpine’s 2021 progress is a step towards that 100-race goal. Esteban Ocon picked up his first win at the Hungarian Grand Prix and the team’s first victory since 2013. Then Fernando Alonso picked up his first podium since 2014 at the Qatar Grand Prix. This has left the team confident heading into 2022. You could see Alpine’s progress on track as the season progressed. Could the potential arrival of a new Team Principal, such as Otmar Szafnauer, see Alpine challenge for the podium regularly next season?

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