Aston Martin announced on Wednesday (Jan 5) that team principal Otmar Szafnauer had left the team. The surprise move leaves no one in the position as the team focuses on readying the 2022 car. For now, his duties will be handled by a number of A-M’s leaders until a new principal is appointed.
Szafnauer had been with the team for 12 years, joining in 2009 when the team was known as Force India. The Silverstone-based team endured financial difficulties in the mid-2010s and Szafnauer is credited with steering it through its troubles. He was then a key figure in helping to stabilize and increase performance after Lawrence Stroll bought the team in 2018.
Reports had surfaced before the Brazilian Grand Prix in early November that Szafnauer would leave A-M to take on a similar role at Alpine. Szafnauer refuted those claims calling them “media speculation” but never outright said it was not going to happen.
Though there was reason to believe his move to Alpine was imminent, nothing transpired and Szafnauer led A-M through the rest of the season and quietly into the preparations for 2022.
With Szaufnauer’s department, A-M’s decision to hire former McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh looks further like he will assume a similar position. When hired, Szafnauer initially stated that he did not feel that Whitmarsh’s role would change any of his duties and believed the two would be working alongside each other.
Such a plan now seems to have taken a turn into a questioning of leadership. Whitmarsh will likely ascend to lead the team, either at the track or at the facility, and will become a focal point.
For Szafnauer, the reports from November look prescient though whether he is jumping to Alpine is still a remaining question.
At this juncture, the big surprise is that this move came so late, with the season set to begin in close to 70 days and testing set for Feb 23 in Barcelona.
About the author
As a writer and editor, Ava anchors the Formula 1 coverage for the site, while working through many of its biggest columns. Ava earned a Masters in Sports Studies at UGA and a PhD in American Studies from UH-Mānoa. Her dissertation Chased Women, NASCAR Dads, and Southern Inhospitality: How NASCAR Exports The South is in the process of becoming a book.
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