Otmar Szafnauer’s future as Alpine team principal appears to be in jeopardy after CEO Laurent Rossi warned “there’s going to be consequences” for the team missing targets this season.
Alpine finished fourth in the constructors’ championship last year but is currently sixth – level on points with McLaren in fifth – this year, after a number of missed opportunities and operational errors. Concerned by the gap to the top four teams after seeing Aston Martin make a major step forward, Rossi says “there is a lot of excuses” within the team and that he wants to see changes quickly as he won’t revise his target of finishing fourth this year.
“It’s too early to do that – and I don’t want to give people the comfort,” Rossi told the official Formula 1 website. “I don’t enter a competition and reset my objective because it’s easier. 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. The trajectory is not good. We need to fix the mindset of the team ASAP.”
Rossi says Alpine’s standards have slipped that lead to a lack of operational excellence, and that the final responsibility rests with current team principal Szafnauer.
“He is responsible for the performance of the team – that’s his job. There is no hiding here. 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. 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.”
And while Aston Martin’s step forward was a surprise this season it came amid a backdrop of significant investment from Lawrence Stroll, but Rossi says Alpine has the resources available to do similar.
“Enstone has never had as much resources at their disposal for a continuous number of years. The runway here is 10 years. There will never be a time where the team will be short.
“Aston have less engineers than us, as far as I know. They don’t have their own wind tunnel yet, they don’t have their plant running at the moment. They hyper-charged development by having the right people joining them. It shows that it’s down to creativity and efficiency. It’s the rule of the game, we know that. So no, I’m sorry, I don’t buy the resource excuse.”