Alpine has confirmed a swathe of its top staff are leaving the team, following the departure of CEO Laurent Rossi two weeks ago.
Chief technical officer Pat Fry has also left. Williams has already confirmed the veteran engineer has joined them in the same role.
Szafnauer, who joined the Enstone-based team at the beginning of the 2022 season, and Permane, who has been at the factory since its original guise as Toleman in 1988, will both leave the team by “mutual agreement” following this weekend’s round at Spa-Francorchamps, said Alpine in a statement.
The decision comes one week after Rossi was replaced by Philippe Krief. Szafnauer had told media including RaceFans in Hungary that he had confidence that he would be able to continue in his role with the support of Renault CEO Luca de Meo and pursue Alpine’s 100 grand prix target to become a championship contending team.
“I have no concern that Luca will be true to his word and give me the 100 race time that’s required,” Szafnauer said after the Hungarian Grand Prix.
Alpine Motorsports vice-president Bruno Famin will assume the role of interim team principal, with Julian Rouse, the director of Alpine’s academy, becoming interim sporting director.
Speaking at the team principal’s press conference in Spa, Famin said that Alpine had not been as competitive as their ambitions had wished for. The team originally set a target of repeating last year’s fourth place in the constructors championship and closing the gap to the top three teams. However Alpine recently fell to sixth place in the constructors’ championship having been overtaken by McLaren.
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“The results do not match our expectations, clearly,” Famin said. “We were not on the same line on the timeline of how to reach the level of performance we are aiming for. We are not where we wanted [to be].”
“We were fourth last year,” Famin added. “We know that the top three are very strong but we were aiming to keep that fourth place and maybe to find a little bit more for the third. We are not where we wanted.
“We will work hard with all the teams with the Enstone guys and with the Viry-Chatillon guys in order to extract the best possible performance of our car.
Famin thanked Szafnauer and Permane for their contribution. “They are great people. We really thank them for all that they’ve brought to the team – for a very long time for Alan, 34 years in Enstone. More recently with Otmar, we secured the fourth place in the championship last year which was a good achievement.
“But we were not on the same line on the timeline to recover the level or to reach the level of performance we were aiming. Mutually, we agreed to split our ways and that’s it.”
Following the change, Famin said it will take time to decide on their long-term replacements. “I’ve just been appointed two weeks ago as vice president of motorsport at Alpine. Of course, we have been discussing the topic with the top management for weeks and now I will really assess with the whole team what is the real situation and what will be the plan. I will take the necessary time to do this assessment and we will decide later on.”
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