Szafnauer didn’t want to be one of “two popes” at Aston Martin

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In the round-up: Alpine team principal Otmar Szafnauer explains why he left Aston Martin at the end of last year.

In brief

“It was time to leave and leave Aston Martin to their one pope”

Alpine team principal Otmar Szafnauer has suggested that Aston Martin team owner Lawrence Stroll’s management style influenced his decision to switch teams.

Szafnauer had been team principal of Racing Point (which became Aston Martin) since the team was bought by a consortium led by Stroll in 2018. Earlier this year, Szafnauer left the team and joined Alpine as their new team principal.

“I have a great relationship with the men and women at Silverstone,” Szafnauer said of his former team in an interview on Sky. “I more than doubled the size of that team, in the 12 years that I was there. A lot of the people that were hired when I was there were, I don’t want to say hand-picked, but I had a hand in hiring them and recruiting them from other teams and putting a team together that gelled well and it worked well.

“But like a friend of mine told me, the Catholic church only has one pope. And when you have two popes, it’s just not right. So I think it was time to leave and leave Aston Martin to their one pope, and I’m going to go try to help Alpine to the best of my ability.”

No number one driver at Ferrari this season, says Binotto

Mattia Binotto says that Ferrari will not appoint a number one driver within their team this season ahead of the opening race in Bahrain next weekend.

Ferrari have historically applied a hierarchy within their driver lineup, where their ‘number one’ driver has been prioritised with equipment and strategies in order to improve their chances of fighting for the drivers’ championship.

However, Binotto says that both Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz Jnr will again be treated equally in 2022.

“We didn’t appoint any number one and number two last last year,” Binotto said. “We will not do it this year. We will give both equal opportunity and I hope that both of them can have a good championship.”

Capito has no concerns over Haas’ Ferrari connection

Williams CEO Jost Capito say he trusts the FIA’s rules limiting F1 teams from sharing information despite rivals Haas have set up a facility in Ferrari’s Marenello factory.

Capito say the arrangement between the two teams makes sense under budget cap restrictions and has no issue as long as the two teams adhere to the rules.

“I think there are rules in place and as long as the rules are applied then everything is fine,” he said.

“For sure, the FIA has a close look because it was very obvious that Haas set a facility up close to Ferrari and Ferrari people are working there, but the bigger teams had to find solutions because of the cost cap. I think if they find solutions for their people to still be employed, it’s a much better solution than to make people unemployed. And if that’s within the rules and it’s legal in the rules, then it’s absolutely fine.”

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Comment of the day

After George Russell insisted that Red Bull and Ferrari are stronger than Mercedes heading into the first race of the season, @mashiat feels more inclined to believe the Mercedes driver this year compared to previous seasons…

I actually do believe them when they say they are behind Red Bull and Ferrari right now. If you watched the session, the Mercedes exhibited a lot more negative characteristics than either of those two teams. But, just because they are behind right now doesn’t mean they can’t turn up to Bahrain next week and win. You can never discount this team, I would be surprised if they didn’t have some tweaks that will tame the car considerably. And this is a long season with 23 races, you don’t have to start out the quickest car to win the title. If Mercedes believe their concept has more potential than other cars (Hamilton possibly alluded to this), they can afford to start the season slower but ramp it up when the European season hits.

This might have shades of Red Bull in 2012 when they started out the season without the fastest car, but they got it to a very good level where it was capable of picking up some wins in the first half of the season, before introducing their major update in Singapore and winning four races in a row and wrestling the title back.

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday to Armen, Pabs, Starosta and Aqib!

On this day in motorsport

Robert Wickens, IndyCar, 2018
Robert Wickens, IndyCar, 2018
  • Born on this day in 1989: Robert Wickens, who made a one-off F1 appearance in practice for the 2011 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. He later made a successful move to IndyCars, but suffered paralysis in a crash at Pocono in 2018. He returned to racing this year

Author information

Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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10 comments on “Szafnauer didn’t want to be one of “two popes” at Aston Martin”

  1. Szafnauer did an amazing job at the Silverstone team when it was underfunded, consistently overachieving given their resources and the off track happenings that could easily distract other teams. But once their financial resources stabilized and grew, they seemed to wilt under the heat of no longer being the plucky underdog. When things went wrong either with the legality of the Pink Mercedes or the aero changes last year that impacted the low rake team like Aston, he seemed to angrily lash out at everyone else, which made him far less likable. And given their new resources, it is easy to say they went from overachieving to underachieving.

    Was that due to Stroll’s leadership or Szafnauer‘s leadership? Maybe we’ll be able to tell after the first few years at Alpine.

    1. the part where he points out tha some teams share a canteen is particularly grating. Even Brundle moved on that bit quite quickly. Everyone knows, it was then proved that racing point ran a year old merc, provided by mercedes. How can he go on about haas and ferrari or merc with their other partners.

  2. On COTD,

    I feel rather than the eye catching sidepods, it is the front wing design philosophy that I feel is most deviant to other teams.

    To me, out out of all teams, Mercedes front wing looks most similar to its 2021 version.

    All other teams have gone for shallower plates and let clean air flow towards the middle of the car and under the floor. I interpret that as most downforce to be produced by the floor and rear of the car. Mercedes have more pronounced and ‘taller’ front wing and seem to be prioritising front wing downforce.

    It could be a similar error to what McLaren did in 2009. In 2009, while all teams changed their front wing philosophy from inward end plates to outward endplates, McLaren stuck with a front wing with inward endplate. Until they fixed it in Spain 2009.

    1. Teams will run different win profiles and ealier pictures of the Redbull wings appeared similar to that of Mercedes.

  3. So he effectively didn’t want to be a co-leader anymore. Fair enough.

    Of course, equal driver treatment unless only one had a WDC chance.

    Nothing indeed in Haas’ thing with Ferrari.

    Mick’s PB Q1 time was 1:32.449, so 0.208 sec faster than his best effort in last year’s QLF.
    Irrelevant itself, but still nice. Beating that time next Saturday is another matter.

    Interesting someone made notes on women’s screen time.

    Pronouncing Cottingham isn’t hard, LOL.

    I like the DTS interview with Mclaren, an informative read.
    Mclaren was lucky Monza got pre-chosen as a track where Netflix would follow them.

    While I wait with definitive judgments until QLF, COTD has valid points.
    Yes, Merc can still win the opening races & have chances further on even if they began the season without being outright fastest, as the 2012 RBR example demonstrates.

    Either I had wholly forgotten or was unaware until today about Wickens’ 2011 Abu Dhabi GP FP1 running with Virgin Racing.

    1. I forgot: I couldn’t have guessed Unboxed series got inspirations from Premier League & US Sports.

    2. Interesting someone made notes on women’s screen time.

      I guess he had time left over from measuring women’s playing time during EPL matches.

      Or, what did he expect when all drivers and team leadership are male?
      It’s a bit like mansplaining male dominance in F1!

  4. I don’t get Otmar’s comment.

    If he left Aston Martin because he found himself with a more hands-on boss, why did he join Alpine where he now has two bosses?

    1. As long as the bosses above you let you do your job, you’re fine.
      The problem is when your boss wants both rl be your boss and do your job as well @proesterchen

  5. On Drive to Survive:

    I watched the first episode of Season 4 last night (life conspires to keep you off the sofa when you have a job, a wife and two children) and I have to say liked it. This surprised me as I was expecting not to having read everyone’s opinions on it.

    Is DTS flawed, yes, of course it is. As a hardcore fan I would love to watch a programme which did a bit more than just scratch the surface. I know they hype things up which don’t need to be and that they bend the truth to make some things more dramatic. But what you cannot deny is that it is entertaining. And it is entertaining whilst focussing on the sport which we all love, which makes me like it. I don’t watch DTS for serious journalism, in depth insight or to get in depth technical analysis, there are many other places to go to get that information. I like seeing what Toto Wolff’s living room looks like, I like seeing team principals telling other team principals to “go away” in a fruity manner, I like hearing Karun Chandhok and the Chairman of the Bahrain Motorsport authority telling Red Bull they hope they beat Mercedes. I like seeing F1 people being….well being people for the want of a better phrase.

    Can we not all just accept it for what it is: F1 based entertainment. If you do, you may find that, like me, you like it.

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