Szafnauer: F1 teams can’t be run by “two Popes”

New Alpine Formula 1 boss Otmar Szafnauer has made it clear that his authority was being undermined at Aston Martin, noting that a team can't be run by "two Popes".

Szafnauer: F1 teams can’t be run by “two Popes”

Szafnauer contrasted life with Aston Martin owner Lawrence Stroll, who is closely involved in the decision-making process, with how the former Force India team operated under previous owner Vijay Mallya.

Latterly, Martin Whitmarsh was added to the chain of command as Group CEO of Aston Martin Performance Technologies, further diluting Szafnauer's authority.

Szafnauer parted company with the Silverstone outfit at the start of this year, and was quickly recruited as the new team principal of Alpine.

"Like a friend of mine told me the Catholic church only has one Pope," Szafnauer told F1 TV.

"And when you have two Popes, it's just not right. So I think it was time to leave and leave Aston Martin to their one Pope, and I'm going to try to help out Alpine to the best of my ability.

"Everybody's got an owner, and everyone's got a boss. So that bit of it isn't difficult. But the owner and boss that I had before didn't micromanage at all, completely left me to it.

"Vijay [Mallya] would come to the factory four days a year, and I would see him at the race track. But 98% of the work is not done at the race track. It's done back at the factory, that's where it really happens.

"And the culmination of that work is showcased at the track. But the real work with all due respect to the mechanics and race engineers and the drivers here is done at the factory.

"Vijay would come three, four days a year. So the rest of it was completely left up to us. It's a different way of working."

Otmar Szafnauer, Team Principal, Alpine F1

Otmar Szafnauer, Team Principal, Alpine F1

Photo by: Carl Bingham / Motorsport Images

Szafnauer says he won't be rushing to make any changes at Alpine, and his priority is to learn how the team works before making any calls on what might be improved.

"The first thing I think I need to do is learn," he said. "Learn how Enstone is different from where I came from, to learn everybody's name, learn the personality of the place, the DNA, and just learn.

"I remember when I came to Force India, I was asked what are you going to change? Force India was last when I went there.

"And you can't just make change for the sake of change, you have to understand, because I'm sure there's a lot of good, and why would you change just to change? You might be changing what's good. So first and foremost, deep understanding."

Read Also:

Szafnauer knows Esteban Ocon well from their days at Force India/Racing Point, but he has to build a relationship with Fernando Alonso.

The American sees some parallels with Sebastian Vettel, with whom he worked at Aston Martin last year.

"I've got great respect for him. I met him when we were deciding who to take alongside Lance [Stroll] as well. So I had discussions with him.

"And I worked with Sebastian Vettel most recently, four-time world champion, he has a very similar work ethic.

"Or I should say, Fernando's got a similar work ethic to Sebastian, and that need to compete at the highest level, leave no stone unturned, grab every little bit of performance. So I get that.

"Fernando will be easy because I'm the same. I want to do exactly the same. It's just how you go about it, how you treat others to get the most out of them. That's the key."

shares
comments

Related video

FIA explains laser scanning system for F1 car scrutineering
Previous article

FIA explains laser scanning system for F1 car scrutineering

Next article

Domenicali urges FIA to be open with Abu Dhabi F1 report

Domenicali urges FIA to be open with Abu Dhabi F1 report
The crucial tech changes F1 teams must adapt to in 2023 Plus

The crucial tech changes F1 teams must adapt to in 2023

Changes to the regulations for season two of Formula 1's ground-effects era aim to smooth out last year’s troubles and shut down loopholes. But what areas have been targeted, and what impact will this have?

Are these the 50 quickest drivers in F1 history? Plus

Are these the 50 quickest drivers in F1 history?

Who are the quickest drivers in Formula 1 history? LUKE SMITH asked a jury of experienced and international panel of experts and F1 insiders. Some of them have worked closely with F1’s fastest-ever drivers – so who better to vote on our all-time top 50? We’re talking all-out speed here rather than size of trophy cabinet, so the results may surprise you…

Formula 1
Jan 25, 2023
One easy way the FIA could instantly improve F1 Plus

One easy way the FIA could instantly improve F1

OPINION: During what is traditionally a very quiet time of year in the Formula 1 news cycle, FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem has been generating headlines. He’s been commenting on massive topics in a championship that loves them, but also addressing necessary smaller changes too. Here we suggest a further refinement that would be a big boon to fans

Formula 1
Jan 24, 2023
How can McLaren keep hold of Norris? Plus

How can McLaren keep hold of Norris?

Lando Norris is no longer the young cheeky-chappy at McLaren; he’s now the established ace. And F1's big guns will come calling if the team can’t give him a competitive car. Here's what the team needs to do to retain its prize asset

Formula 1
Jan 24, 2023
What difference did F1's fastest pitstops of 2022 make? Plus

What difference did F1's fastest pitstops of 2022 make?

While a quick pitstop can make all the difference to the outcome of a Formula 1 race, most team managers say consistency is more important than pure speed. MATT KEW analyses the fastest pitstops from last season to see which ones – if any – made a genuine impact

Formula 1
Jan 23, 2023
When F1 ‘holiday’ races kept drivers busy through the winter Plus

When F1 ‘holiday’ races kept drivers busy through the winter

Modern Formula 1 fans have grown accustomed to a lull in racing during winter in the northern hemisphere. But, as MAURICE HAMILTON explains, there was a time when teams headed south of the equator rather than bunkering down in the factory. And why not? There was fun to be had, money to be made and reputations to forge…

Formula 1
Jan 20, 2023
What Porsche social media frenzy says about F1’s manufacturer allure Plus

What Porsche social media frenzy says about F1’s manufacturer allure

Porsche whipped up a frenzy thanks to a cryptic social media post last week and, although it turned out to be a false alarm, it also highlighted why manufacturers remain such an important element in terms of the attraction that they bring to F1. It is little wonder that several other manufacturers are bidding for a slice of the action

Formula 1
Jan 19, 2023
Why the new Williams boss shouldn’t avoid ‘Mercedes B-team’ comparisons Plus

Why the new Williams boss shouldn’t avoid ‘Mercedes B-team’ comparisons

OPINION: Williams has moved to replace the departed Jost Capito by appointing former Mercedes chief strategist James Vowles as its new team principal. But while he has sought to play down the idea of moulding his new squad into a vision of his old one, some overlap is only to be expected and perhaps shouldn't be shied away from

Formula 1
Jan 17, 2023