ENSTONE, England (AP) — The Alpine Formula One team hired Otmar Szafnauer as its new team principal on Thursday as part of an ongoing restructuring process.
The 57-year-old Szafnauer has more than 30 years experience in F1. He led Force India from last place in the constructors’ championship to fourth spot in 2016 and ’17 despite a very low budget.
Szafnauer then helped Racing Point win its first race — through Mexican driver Sergio Perez — and secure fourth spot in the constructors in 2020. The team was rebranded to Aston Martin last year and secured another podium when Sebastian Vettel finished second at the Azerbaijan GP in June.
“My attention is focused on preparing for the start of the season in Bahrain (on March 20)," Szafnauer said. "As one of the three car manufacturers involved in Formula One, Alpine is fully armed to achieve its ambition.”
He will mainly oversee engineering and race management to build on a promising 2021 campaign, where drivers Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso clicked and the team placed fifth in the constructors’ championship.
Ocon drove superbly to win the Hungarian Grand Prix in August. He was assisted by the two-time F1 champion Alonso, whose clever defending under high pressure blocked the much quicker Lewis Hamilton for several laps.
Chief executive Laurent Rossi has been reshaping Alpine in a bid to challenge for the F1 title within five years.
Executive director Marcin Budkowski and non-executive director Alain Prost — a four-time F1 champion — both left their roles while former Ferrari and McLaren engineer Pat Fry was recently promoted to chief technical officer.
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