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Szafnauer doubts Sunday will be ‘last time’ in F1

Otmar Szafnauer thinks he will be back in the Formula 1 paddock eventually.

The Alpine team boss, who was poached from Aston Martin for 2022, has been ousted by the chaos-ridden Alpine team – along with Alan Permane and Pat Fry.

James Vowles, who has snapped up Fry to be Williams’ technical boss, says Fry is actually not really part of the current upheavals at Renault-owned Alpine.

“It’s clear they’re in a lot of pain,” Williams boss Vowles says. “They’re having problems and going through a transition phase.

“The only thing I can add is that Pat is not involved in the change they are going through now. Pat’s decision was made many months ago.”

However, Alpine’s management and shareholding upheavals have been underway for some time – even though Szafnauer and Permane’s sackings were made public on Friday.

“It’s unusual,” Szafnauer said of Alpine’s decision to make the new public just as his final weekend with the team began. “But I’ll do my best.

“There’s good and bad news. The good news is that we have another race here. The bad news is that it will be a while before I can do it again.”

Part of his severance deal appears to be a non-competition clause for at least a year.

“Probably not next year with another team, no,” Szafnauer confirmed. “But I don’t think it’s the last time we’ll talk to one another either.”

He confirmed interim boss Bruno Famin’s suggestion on Friday that upper management, Szafnauer and Permane appeared to disagree about how long it would take Alpine to get into a winning position.

“I think it takes years, but some top executives thought it could be faster,” he told Viaplay. “But when you’re not on the same wavelength in terms of timelines, it’s better to split up.”

Nonetheless, he says changes he has made will now be felt by the team over the coming years.

“I signed some good people from other teams, but they are still stuck in their contracts and won’t come until 2024 or 2025. You can’t really push development if the people aren’t there,” said Szafnauer.

“It takes time for people to come and it takes time for those people to then work together correctly. I always say ‘You can’t get nine women pregnant and hope to have a baby in a month’.”

French F1 legend Alain Prost, who was ousted by Renault just as Szafnauer joined early last year, pins the blame for the chaos on Laurent Rossi – who has also now been shuffled aside from the CEO role.

“He is a perfect example of the Dunning-Kruger effect,” Prost told L’Equipe. “An incapable leader who thinks he can hide behind arrogance and a lack of humanity towards his team.

“His management broke the momentum that had been built since 2016 to reach victories,” Prost blasted. “Hopefully this decision to replace two more bosses will be a salutary electric shock for the team.”