Alpine F1 team principal Otmar Szafnauer, amid a disappointing start to the 2023 Formula 1 season for his team, insists they have caught up to their rivals, despite recent criticism from CEO Laurent Rossi.
Szafnauer is under fire. The powers that be over at Alpine seem to be slowly losing faith in the American boss, as a string of very poor performances plague the team so far this season.
However, Szafnauer is adamant that progress was made, and has in fact, caught up to some of the other teams. After the Miami weekend, Alpine’s points haul thus far is at a measly 14, leaving much to be desired. The best finish that the team has seen, came from newcomer Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon sealing eighth place and ninth place respectively, at the Miami Grand Prix, albeit nearly a minute down on race winner Max Verstappen in the Red Bull.
In the post-race press release after the Miami Grand Prix, Szafnauer shared his thoughts on the team’s performance: “We can take some satisfaction from our weekend performance in Miami, culminating with a double points finish after two fine race drives from Pierre and Esteban. Our race pace looked strong.
The American 58-year-old TP added: “We managed the tyres well to fight with cars around us and we come away from here with points on the board. It’s clear we have gained on some rival teams from last season with Pierre close to holding off the Ferrari and Mercedes at the end and Esteban going long on his first stint very much on the pace of some of the leading cars.”
Rossi: Trust is something that increases with good results
Informing media that Alpine have made progress by catching a limp Ferrari and Mercedes is scratching the barrel amid a season in which only Red Bull has excelled, the rest having failed badly in varying degrees, Alpine, with a great deal of potential, among them. Like other F1 team bosses, there is nowhere to hide for Szafnauer.
When it comes to the F1 team, “the buck stops with Szafnauer” declared Alpine big boss Rossi in an unveiled warning last week, adding: “Trust is something that increases with good results, and erodes with bad results.”
That, coming from a CEO, generally means you’re not in his good books. Szafnauer-led Alpine have a lot of work to do going forward, performance-wise and operationally while calming the apparent dissent rising within the French outfit.
The harsh reality in a results-driven sport, is Alpine, as a works F1 team, has to be in the top four with the other Big Three – Ferrari, Red Bull and Mercedes – last year they were indeed best of the rest, but by some margin to the trio ahead.
The goal set by Szafanuer was to reduce that gap, but right now they’re nowhere near where they should be, and if results don’t come, it’s almost a given that Szafnauer will be gone by the end of the season, if not sooner than that. Ask Laurent!