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Alpine ‘amateurish’ criticisms don't heap pressure on F1 team, says Szafnauer

Alpine team principal Otmar Szafnauer insists that criticisms that his Formula 1 squad has been ‘amateurish’ at times this year has not added any pressure on it to do better.

Otmar Szafnauer, Team Principal, Alpine F1 Team, in the team principals Press Conference

Otmar Szafnauer, Team Principal, Alpine F1 Team, in the team principals Press Conference

Motorsport Images

The Enstone-based squad found itself in the firing line from Alpine CEO Laurent Rossi over the Miami GP weekend, as he lashed out at its lack of results this year.

“I'm noting not only an obvious lack of performance and rigour in the delivery, but also potentially a state of mind that is not up to this team's past standards,” Rossi told Canal+

Rossi also said he was far from impressed at the triple whammy of penalties Esteban Ocon earned in Bahrain, as well as the problems that marred the squad's weekend in Baku.

“I did not like the first grand prix, because there was a lot of – I'm sorry for saying this – amateurishness, which led to a result that wasn't right. It was mediocre, bad.

“And the last race in Baku was tremendously similar to the one in Bahrain. That is not acceptable.”

Despite the remarkable comments causing a stir, Szafnauer insists that he did not read any stories relating to the matter.

And, furthermore, he said that any such criticisms that are made public change absolutely nothing in terms of the determination inside the team to do better.

“Reading something like that on paper puts no more pressure [on us],” he said, when asked by Motorsport.com if there was a greater need to do better now.

“Everyone wants to do well here. We're very well experienced, with technicians and engineers at the highest level, and we put pressure on ourselves. So, we just have to fix it.”

Pierre Gasly, Alpine A523

Pierre Gasly, Alpine A523

Photo by: Alpine

Szafnauer said that it did not take remarks from Rossi to make the team realise that it was not doing all that was expected of it this year.

“I saw that you wrote something because I saw the headline, but I haven't had time to read it,” he said.

“But we underperformed in Baku. The drivers ran into each other in Australia, and I think at the first race, we had a myriad of penalties, starting with Esteban being out of place.

“It hasn't been a smooth start to the season and maybe that's why he made the comments. But I have to read them.”

Szafnauer said that the priority for the team was learning from everything that has gone wrong this year and make changes to processes and infrastructure to ensure no repeat.

“All we can do when we have issues like Baku is find and understand the root cause of why it happened, and make sure we either put the process or the people in place so that it doesn't happen again,” he said.

“We had an engine fire on one side, and we've got to make sure that doesn't happen. And then we had some finger trouble on the other side. With finger trouble, once you understand how it happens, there's ways to mitigate that. That's what we'll do. We've done it already. It didn't happen here.”

Laurent Rossi, Alpine F1 Team CEO

Laurent Rossi, Alpine F1 Team CEO

Photo by: Alpine

Rossi’s remarks were clearly put out there to get a message across, although it is unclear what the immediate motivation was.

He could have been trying to deflect pressure away from himself, or they could be laying the groundwork for changes he is planning at the team.

Szafnauer said he had no direct understanding of why Rossi made the statement, but he did plan to find out.

He added: “I have no idea and you'll have to ask him. I'll be asking him. This weekend was so busy that I haven't had a chance to discuss it.”

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