Szafnauer: Alpine “still have 75 races left” in 100-race F1 plan

Alpine team principal Otmar Szafnauer has no concerns about the need to immediately improve performance, even with the concerns being voiced by CEO Laurent Rossi.

Rossi has delivered a series of scathing remarks to the media in recent weeks, describing the team’s start of the year as “amateurish” and questioning the mentality at Enstone.

Otmar Szafnauer’s role was also mentioned, with the Alpine boss making no mistake about who is ultimately responsible for the French outfit’s success.

There has been plenty of criticism towards Rossi for publicly expressing these concerns, especially given the claims of a hostile environment within the organisation.

Former advisor Alain Prost was one of the most outspoken critics of Alpine’s upper management structure, naming Laurent Rossi as one of the main culprits contributing to a toxic atmosphere.

Returning to the situation in 2023, there is a clear dissatisfaction with the performance of the A523 – which is currently far from meeting the target of finishing fourth in the constructors.

Miami Qualifiche

However, Otmar Szafnauer does not appear flustered by the need to deliver drastically improved results in the immediate future:

“When the 100-race plan happened, we also put a plan together for the infrastructure that we needed, skills that we needed,” he told the media.

“We’re trying to get the infrastructure… you’ve got to get the people that have the right tools. 

“We still have 75 races, I’ve stopped counting, but it’s around 75 [races left].

“So if we have 25 a year, that’s three years – so about three and a half years to go.

“Within those three and a half years, we’ll get a new simulator, [a] new head of simulation – these are things that will come. And when they come, we will take those steps.”

The incongruence between the messages coming from Alpine’s team principal and CEO is now clear.

On the one hand, Rossi is demanding results – apparently still aiming for 4th place in the standings despite the clear gap between the A523 and front-running machines.

Meanwhile, although Otmar Szafnauer has not yet abandoned this pre-season objective, Rossi’s sense of urgency and alarm is clearly not matched.

This is by no means a negative, given Szafnauer’s role is to motivate and lead his team forward, but it still represents a divide at the very top.

Turning now to the activities on track rather than the speculation away from it, the situation at Alpine is clear. The Enstone team has a reasonable package – generally regarded as the 5th-fastest in F1.

As in previous years, the French outfit can lead the midfield and score points relatively consistently. However, they lack the pace to trouble Red Bull, Ferrari, Mercedes, or Aston Martin.

Having spent several years firmly in the midfield, this is a relatively familiar scenario.

Looking ahead, the question is whether there is enough patience to wait for the “100-race plan” to reach completion or if the demand for immediate results will lead to change at the French constructor.

Author: Jaden Diaz-Ndisang