The week of pre-season testing began with a bang for the BWT Alpine F1 Team, as they launched their 2022 challenger the A522 Monday afternoon at Renault Group’s home in Paris.
One of the big talking points ahead of pre-season testing at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, is Alpine’s new Team Principal Otmar Szafnauer, who made the switch to the French team over the winter after leaving the same role at Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant Formula One Team. The Romanian-born American was present at the launch as he explained how excited he is to have joined Alpine.
“I’m exceptionally proud to be joining BWT Alpine F1 Team as Team Principal. I’m very grateful to Laurent for the trust to lead this team in my role and I’m looking forward to beginning this new journey. I know a lot about the team as they were fierce competitors from my previous roles. I know just how good this team is, and, indeed, how good it can become. The personnel on board, and both drivers, are so strong and I’m excited to get down to business.”
Szafnauer has a rich history in Formula 1, most notably for joining Force India in 2009, overseeing the team’s rise from 2009-2015: before proudly finishing fourth in 2016 and 2017 in the Constructors Championship. Most recently, the 57-year-old led the team through its rebrands to Racing Point in 2019 and 2020 and Aston Martin in 2021, before signing for Alpine prior to the 2022 FIA Formula 1 World Championship. Szafnauer joins Alpine having worked with one of the drivers at the team before, in the form of Frenchman Esteban Ocon.
“I know Esteban very well from his two seasons at Force India. Back then, he was young, raw, hugely talented and very quick on-track. In fact, not much has changed since. His talent is clear to see, and I was very happy and proud to see him claim his first Grand Prix win last season.
“It’s great to team up with Esteban again as I have a good relationship with him already. Everyone knows Fernando’s exceptional qualities. His experience is invaluable, and I thoroughly believe the team’s line-up is amongst the strongest on the grid. It’s going to be enjoyable to work with a motorsport legend in Fernando and to reunite with Esteban.”
Szafnauer has plenty of experience by now of being the Team Principal of an F1 team, over the years he has helped team’s grow and as mentioned come through rebranding. His skills could play pivotal to helping Alpine take that next step closer to the front of the grid after a successful 2021 for the team. At the launch Szafnauer discussed what skills and qualities he will be bringing to Alpine.
“Leadership skills are paramount to the success of any company, whether that be in sport, in Formula 1 or any other business. It’s never an easy task, nor an easy journey, but that’s what makes the challenge so exciting. I’m a firm believer in passion, teamwork and Respect for the Individual. We have to be passionate about what we do, whatever the task.
“A high-performing team’s key to success has, and always will be, teamwork. We’ll control what we are able to control, we’ll enjoy our journey, and we’ll enjoy the racing because that is what we’re here to do. As a team, we’re all racers and that is why we enjoy our work in Formula 1. With this passion and teamwork, I know success will come.”
Szafnauer is incredibly entering his 24th season in F1, in that time he has seen plenty of technical regulation changes, something which he is very excited about for the upcoming season where the team will be hoping they’ve mastered the A522.
“This time of year is always filled with anticipation and excitement. This season, that is only amplified as Formula 1 heads into a new era. I’m very excited to see the A522 on-track and seeing how we can keep developing the entire package over the course of the season. Right now is a fantastic moment. It’s when the talking stops and the on-track actions take over. Everyone’s hard work has certainly paid off in designing and creating the car. I’m very proud to be joining this team and being part of the transition and future progress.”