Otmar Szafnauer had to face media with varied questions about Aston Martin and Alpine, but there was no certain answer about his F1 future.
One of the more intriguing stories from the middle of the grid since Mexico concerned Szafnauer and the possibility of him moving from midfield to midfield – Aston Martin to Alpine in 2022. By all accounts, a promotion which could be similar to the way McLaren is run with Zak Brown and Andreas Seidl.
Szafnauer readily released a hard statement putting down the stories from AutoHebdo but in the following press conference, he didn’t directly said no but more pushed on about having the deal set with Aston Martin in long-term capacity.
Being a delicate matter, we decided to full question and subsequent answer from Szafnauer to help our reders understand what was asked and how it was answered:
Q) There are many rumours in the paddock linking you with a switch to the Alpine team. What’s the situation?
Szafnauer: “I too read those rumours a couple of days ago and I was as surprised as anybody else but I just want to say that it’s always humbling and flattering for people to say, “oh if Alpine are reorganising”, I think Laurent Rossi said that in Mexico, and for the media to speculate that I could be wanted there. It’s always nice to be wanted.
Q) Where do these rumours come from, do you think?
Szafnauer: “I don’t know. The first I saw was AutoHebdo and not being French I don’t know who they are but you know… and then I think it was translated into English from what my colleagues in the press office tell me.”
Q) And has your boss Lawrence Stroll asked for a clarification?
Szafnauer: “Asked me for a clarification? No, he wasn’t in Mexico and Brazil. He wasn’t feeling well. I’m sure I’ll catch up with him but no, we haven’t talked about rumours. There’s lots of stuff that goes on in the media that we don’t talk about?”
Q) Otmar, in your answers a couple of minutes ago, and in your statement on Instagram yesterday, you left a bit of room for interpretation. Are you prepared to close down that room by saying that what was written by AutoHebdo was an invention and you’re not talking to and have not talked to anybody from Alpine about running them in the future?
Szafnauer: “Yes, so I don’t have the ability and the pleasure of reading French, so I’m not sure what they wrote, so hard for me to say.”
Q) Otmar, will you be with Aston Martin next year? Can you say that categorically?
Szafnauer: “That’s a good question. Look, I’ve been at the team for 12 years, I have no intention of leaving. I love this team. Most of the senior managers, especially through Racing Point, and the senior leadership team was recruited and put there by myself and I have no intention of leaving them. I have been loyal to this team. I have many, many offers in the 12 years I have been working for this team, especially in the days of the bankruptcy and insolvency. I could have left many times, but I am loyal to the employees there.”
Q) Sorry Otmar, but we must just continue this one to get a categorical denial from you, please. Are you absolutely not joining Alpine at any stage in the very near future at all, please? Yes or no?
Szafnauer: “I love the question, I love the question, but I learned a long, long time ago that predicting the future is an impossibility and if I could do that I would be in Vegas now.”
Q) Don’t worry there are no future predictions needed, just a simple yes or no. Have you had contact with Alpine about a job?
Szafnauer: “This year for example there have been many teams that have contacted me and I think it was, I was sitting next to Laurent Rossi when McEvoy asked if Aston Martin were recruiting a CEO to take my job. I knew nothing of that and jokingly Rossi said “if you’re leaving, come talk to us” and that was it. I don’t know if that was what sparked the Auto Hebdo article.”
Q) Just to follow up that answer, does that mean you haven’t had any contact with Laurent or anyone at Alpine since that happened about potentially working for them?
Szafnauer: “Like I said, I’m fully committed to the team I am in. I have been there forever. I have no intention of leaving. I mean forever is 12 years, so maybe not forever, but half my career, and you know, I’ve got to focus on the rest of this season. The season hasn’t quite gone to what we thought it was going to, how it was going to go, so we’ve got to focus on these next races to score as many points as we can and that’s what I will be doing.”
Q) Otmar, do you have a contract in place with Aston Martin for next year?
Szafnauer: “I’m always reticent to disclose contractual details but I can tell you I have a long-term contract in place with Aston.”
There is no doubt that as a team, Alpine are definitely improving and have more consistent in the second half of the season. There hasn’t been much to choose between the two in fact. The response from Szafnauer might not have endeared him to the interviewers but one cannot help but feel that there is something stirring in the air.
The story was written by Neil Farrell
Here’s the statement from Otmar Szafnauer