Otmar Szafnauer confirms talks with Michael Andretti and could have imagined helping the team enter Formula 1
Former Force India and Alpine team boss Otmar Szafnauer confirms talks with Andretti about a leading role in the potential Formula 1 team. Andretti actually wanted to enter Formula 1 as the eleventh team in 2025 at the earliest, but received a harsh rebuff at the end of January
Though joining the team is off the table for now, Szafnauer reveals that he could have played a role in the project after being dismissed by Alpine in the summer of 2023.
He confirmed to Motor Sport: “I had a few conversations with Michael Andretti. He even called me before I went to Alpine and I told him that I would like to help him.”
“However, the Americans simply lack a place in Formula 1 – without that, Szafnauer can’t join the team either. “They have to get the Formula 1 seat first, because how am I supposed to help them without a seat?” he says.
Even before the cancellation was announced, he said: “If they are accepted, then I will be able to talk about being involved, starting them and getting them rolling.” But that is unlikely to happen now.
After leaving Alpine, the 59-year-old is currently without a job in Formula 1, but he himself emphasizes that he would like to continue and use his experience somewhere. He still has “five to seven years” left in him, says Szafnauer.
“Maybe I have too high an opinion of myself, but I believe that I still have the skills to put together a good team that is competitive in Formula 1. “
“Impatient” Szafnauer hopes to return
At the moment, however, he still has to wait for Alpine’s release phase before he can get back to the sport: “Hopefully I can come back soon. The problem is that I’m a little impatient. “
Had he started at Andretti in any form, patience would have been required. Because simply starting from zero to 100 with lots of new people doesn’t work, as he had already realized at BAR.
Even with an established team like Alpine, major changes are not possible overnight. But that was the problem when he was there: “The top bosses wanted success as quickly as possible,” he criticizes. “I told them what was possible and they said they didn’t have the time. “
Criticism of Alpine bosses: “Don’t seem to understand “
Szafnauer had already criticized his former team a few weeks ago and described the bosses as “naive”. Now he has gone one better.
“It seems that they don’t understand that it takes time to change a culture and get new skills that we didn’t have. They just don’t have the technical skills they need. “
He himself is convinced that he did “a good job” and “the right changes” at Enstone. He also told the bosses this, but the progress was not fast enough for them.
“And that was the reason for our disagreement. And I was given less than ten days’ notice of their decision, which then led to my departure in Belgium,” said Szafnauer.