The surprising departure of Otmar Szafnauer from Alpine, announced during the Belgian Grand Prix, has generated a lot of discussion, and Sergio Perez has come to his defence in the face of numerous criticisms of his management.
During the Belgian Grand Prix, Alpine announced the departure of their team principal Szafnauer, alongside technical director Pat Fry and sporting director Alan Permane.
The 58-year-old Romanian, who only joined the French team a year ago after a brief stint with Aston Martin, has been in Formula 1 since the 1990s. He came to Alpine with a long-term vision of success, targeting the year 2026. However, the team’s management wanted faster results.
Perez, who worked alongside Szafnauer at Force India (later Racing Point) from 2014 to 2020, achieving an incredible victory at the 2020 Sakhir GP, holds reservations about the decision being entirely just.
“I think I was quite surprised with it, given how short notice it was,” he said. “I think Otmar is great, [and] any person in that position, you’ve got to give them time.
“I think Otmar lacked time to really show his potential, which I know is huge because I’ve seen what he’s done in other teams with very limited budgets and with not-so-limited budgets as well.”
Steiner: Szafnauer firing not done in the ‘normal way’
Haas‘ team principal, Guenther Steiner, has mentioned that Szafnauer’s departure is just another instance of the significant pressure under which team bosses operate. He noted that often they aren’t treated fairly, although that’s precisely their role.
“The way it was done is not the normal way, but everyone does it in their own way,” Steiner said of Alpine’s dismissal of Szafnauer. “I obviously think Otmar is disappointed, but he’s been there before, and if you’re in this position, I think most of us have been there before.
“One door closes and another opens, as they say. This business is a tough business, because you’re in front of the public eye, things can happen, and you just have to live with it. I’m not saying it’s good, but it’s part of it.
“I think Otmar will get over it pretty quickly, as I said, he’s been in this situation before, and these things happen and it’s part of our life as team managers.”