The rumor has been circulating in Formula 1 for a few months already and was confirmed on Wednesday by Aston Martin, led by Montreal businessman Lawrence Stroll.
Otmar Szafnauer resigns as general manager of the team and leaves immediately.
“We would like to thank him for his hard work with our organization over the past 12 years,” reads a press release from the company, whose workshops are located near the Silverstone circuit in England. We wish him all the best in his future endeavours. “…
However, this new challenge could be that of joining the ranks of the F1 Alpine team, in an equally important role.
Szafnauer, 57, was born in Semlac, Romania, to a father of German descent and a Romanian mother. His parents moved to Detroit, United States when he was only seven years old.
A highly trusted French publication AutoTrader argued last November that Szafnauer was expected to take over Alpine’s management in a major overhaul planned by the French outfit at the start of the new F1 season.
Informed of these rumours, the interested protagonist had clearly rejected the possibility of a transfer to the Blues.
“The rumor is media speculation and not based on fact,” Szafnauer said at the time. I have been part of the team for 12 years and I have no intention of leaving. I remind you, he added, that I have a long-term contract with Aston Martin. »
But hey, in F1, any agreement, firm or not, can be terminated at any time. This certified divorce is another example. And Szafnauer hid his game well.
arrival at Whimarsh
Last September, the Aston Martin team, run by Lance Stroll, son of the owner, and four-time world champion, German Sebastian Vettel, had hired Martin Whitmarsh, former director of McLaren F1, to take on the roles of president and general manager. manager of Aston Martin Performance Technologies, the structure that controls the operations of the F1 team.
This appointment would have shocked Szafnauer and he probably felt a clear message that he was no longer the man for the job.
Under his reign, which began in 2009, Szafnauer developed the team, first known as Force India, from a limited capacity.
A year of restrictions
In 2020, the team renamed Racing Point distinguished itself by finishing the season in fourth place in the final F1 constructors’ classification, slipping from third place in favor of McLaren at the end of the season’s final event in Abu Dhabi. .
Twelve months later, after leading his team to the best season in its history with a yield of 195 points and a first victory (that of Sergio Pérez at the Sakhir Grand Prix), it is a very poor assessment that the team changed the name to Aston Martin. 2021.
His two drivers have scored just 77 points throughout the season, with only one podium finish when Vettel finished second at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix on June 6.
The identity of Szafnauer’s replacement will be announced at a later date. “We are led by a very capable group of people, we can read in the press release from Aston Martin, and we will take some time to explore the options before announcing the composition of our new team. »
The 2022 season of the F1 World Championship, which, in principle, must include a record 23 races, will begin on March 20 in Bahrain. The return of the Grand Prix of Canada, after two years of absence, is scheduled for June 19, if, of course, the state of health allows, which is unknown.