Fired Alpine team boss Otmar Szafnauer reportedly stopped by Aston Martin before leaving the Spa-Francorchamps paddock at the Belgian Grand Prix.
On the Friday of the Belgian Grand Prix weekend, Alpine made the shocking revelation that Szafnauer’s time with the team would be his last. Sporting director Alan Permane, whose tenure with Team Enstone spanned over a thirty-year period, was also let go.
Szafnauer will be replaced temporarily by Bruno Famin, who was just named the vice president of Alpine Motorsports.
Szafnauer’s relationship with Aston Martin dates all the way back to 2009, when he joined the Silverstone team then known as Force India. He departed the team in order to join Alpine shortly before the 2022 season.
Szafnauer highlighted his “two popes” metaphor, which was a dig at the appointment of Martin Whitmarsh as CEO of Aston Martin, as justification for quitting the team because he felt his authority was waning.
But Sky Germany claims to have seen Szafnauer visiting the Aston Martin hospitality at his farewell race weekend in Alpine colours. The big question is whether he was there to bid his former teammates farewell or to make contact about joining the squad again.
When he spoke with Sky Germany, he was keeping a rather tight lid on that matter.
“I will not comment,” Szafnauer said. “As you can see, my adventure at Alpine has just ended. Now I can join a new team from now on. Let’s wait and see.”
Szafnauer did however deny the rumors that he had left the Spa paddock before of the race on Sunday, despite social media videos purporting to show him leaving the circuit early.
Alpine acknowledged that the video showed Szafnauer leaving an F1 Experiences event rather than the circuit.
“That’s the beauty of Formula 1, people invent things and there is fake news everywhere,” Szafnauer told Sky Germany. “I didn’t leave the track, I was here the whole time.
“I was at the command post, helping with strategy decisions and making sure we got some good points.”
Alpine is currently sixth in the F1 2023 Constructors standings, 46 points behind McLaren as Formula 1 goes for summer break.