Szafnauer calls for exception to budget cap to improve Alpine’s infrastructure.

Amidst a lackluster start to the season for the Enstone and Viry-based team, Alpine CEO Laurent Rossi recently singled out Szafnauer as the one to blame.

Speculation intensified when reports emerged of Rossi’s presence in Miami during the latest grand prix, fueling rumours of discussions about selling team shares to AutoNation, an American car retailer.

However, team boss Szafnauer, who joined Aston Martin in early 2022, asserts that the underlying issue lies not in financial resources but rather in the FIA regulations that restrict significant investments in infrastructure improvements.

“The others have better simulation tools than we do,” he told Auto Motor und Sport. “We usually need a little more time on track until we find the perfect setup.”

According to him, one area that requires immediate attention at Enstone is the outdated driver simulator facility.“Our current simulator is 15-20 years old,” he said. “It’s an old McLaren model.

“We ordered a new, modern simulator a month ago, but we’ll only get it in one and a half to two years. That’s just how long it takes for things to get built.”

Another pressing concern arises from the fact that teams striving to bridge the gap with the leading contenders are now constrained by the budget cap, limiting their spending capabilities.

“We have to talk to the FIA so that necessary investments do not fall under the budget cap,” said Szafnauer. “Otherwise you are trapped with your existing infrastructure.

“We have to build a new transmission test bench for 2026,” he added. “That leaves no room for other measures. Certain projects should be outside the budget cap, such as the Aston Martin wind tunnel, for which an exception was made.

“If that had been under the budget, it never would have happened.”

The 58-year-old further emphasized the importance of Alpine bolstering its personnel by recruiting talent from rival teams.

“But that takes time,” he said. “People who can help the team and make a difference usually have long-term contracts.

“Aston brought in a lot of people from Red Bull and Mercedes – not just Dan Fallows and Eric Blandin, who everyone is talking about now,” Szafnauer added. “Guess see who chose them back then?”

And so, despite CEO Rossi’s warnings, Szafnauer said the 100-race Alpine plan to get to the front of the grid remains on track despite the current setbacks.

“We still have 75 races left,” he said. “That’s about three and a half years. Our new infrastructure should be set up in this time, and then we’ll take the next steps,” he concluded.