Aston Martin team principal Otmar Szafnauer refused to deny reports that he could be set to join Alpine next year, after persistent questioning at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix.
French motorsport publication AutoHebdo first reported Szafnauer was in talks to join Alpine earlier this week, with the French constructor looking at a major restructuring under Laurent Rossi. Speaking after FP1 in Brazil, Szafnauer discussed the rumors but did not deny he could be set to switch teams.
“I too read those rumors a couple of days ago and I was as surprised as anybody else,” Szafnauer said. “But I just want to say it’s always humbling and flattering for people to say, ‘Oh if Alpine are re-organizing’ — I think (Alpine CEO) Laurent Rossi said that in Mexico and for the media to speculate that I could be wanted there, it’s always nice to be wanted.
“The first I saw was AutoHebdo and not being French I don’t know who they are, but I think it was translated into English from what my colleagues in the press office tell me. I don’t have the ability and the pleasure of reading French so I’m not sure what they wrote. So hard for me to say (if the report is false).”
Szafnauer was then asked if he would be with Aston Martin in 2022, and despite later stating he has “a long-term contract in place with Aston,” he couldn’t confirm that would be the case.
“That’s a good question. I’ve been at the team for 12 years, I’ve no intention of leaving. I love this team, most of the senior managers — especially through Racing Point — and the senior leadership team was recruited and put there by myself and I have no intentions of leaving them. I’ve been loyal to this team — I’ve had many, many offers in the 12 years I’ve been working for this team, especially in the days of the bankruptcy and insolvency. I could have left many times but I’m loyal to the employees there.
“This year, for example, there were many, many teams that have contacted me. I think I was sitting next to Laurent Rossi when (a journalist) asked if Aston Martin were recruiting a CEO to take my job, and I knew nothing of that and jokingly Rossi said, ‘Oh if you’re leaving, come talk to us’ and that was about it. I don’t know if that’s what sparked the AutoHebdo article.”