Aston Martin boss Otmar Szafnauer will be leaving the team following an announcement made on Wednesday.
As of January 2022, Aston Martin Formula 1 has no Team Principal after Otmar Szafnauer confirmed his departure.
Formerly working for Ford and Honda, Szafnauer was an American of Romanian descent who had been with the Silverstone-based team since 2009. He played a crucial role during the period when the team was known as Force India, under Vijay Mallya’s leadership, as it struggled with financial concerns that limited its potential.
After the team came under administration in mid-2018, Szafnauer was appointed team principal of the new Racing Point squad after renaming it following takeover by Canadian business tycoon Lawrence Stroll.
As Aston Martin became part of the McLaren group last September, Szafnauer remained with the team, but his position was put in the spotlight when ex-McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh was appointed as group CEO. A series of rumors emerged that Szafnauer was seeking a departure, and he was associated with Alpine in November, prompting strenuous assertions that he would not leave.
At the end of November, Szafnauer reiterated that he had no intentions of departing from the team and insisted that he could have left many times, but was very loyal to the employees having a “long-term contract with Aston.”
Aston Martin announced his immediate departure on Wednesday. The exact reason for his departure is unclear.
In their remarks, the team said they are “comfortable with taking some time to explore options before announcing an entirely new team structure” and they are “led and managed by strong individuals.”
The team earned a reputation as an underdog that punched above its weight during Szafnauer’s time, but after being acquired by Stroll and rebranded as Aston Martin, an even higher bar was set.
The team has expressed its desire to compete in the World Championship within the next three to four years, as a result of a new budget cap, revamped technical standards, and a recruitment push on its growing campus.
A new factory featuring state-of-the-art facilities, a simulator, and a wind tunnel is under construction at Silverstone, adjacent to Stroll’s existing premises, which dates back to the early 1990s. The project is expected to be finished in late 2022 or early 2023, and it will be fully operational by mid-2023.
After its rebranding in 2021, Aston Martin failed to impress in its first year as it dropped from fourth to seventh in the standings. The team pointed to the tweaked technical rules that it felt hindered the low-rake design philosophy it employed as opposed to the high-rake approach widely employed by its rivals.
In 2022, the team will field four-time champion Sebastian Vettel and Lawrence Stroll’s son, Lance Stroll.