Szafnauer departed the team after last month’s Belgian Grand Prix as part of wholesale changes at the Enstone team, with long-time sporting director Alan Permane also leaving.
After Renault CEO Luca de Meo decided to remove Alpine CEO Laurent Rossi from the F1 program, news of his departure emerged.
At Spa, interim team principal Bruno Famin said Szafnauer and Renault were on “different timelines” in terms of cutting short Alpine’s five-year plan to fight for wins and championships.
In a conversation with SiriusXM, Szafnauer expresses his inability to agree to a timeline that is not feasible according to de Meo. He highlights the Renault management’s lack of comprehension regarding the requirements for achieving success in F1.
Szafnauer expressed that the senior management at Renault, including CEO Luca de Meo, shares the common desire for immediate success in F1. However, he acknowledged that achieving success in F1 does not happen instantly.
“I cannot reword”
Szafnauer pointed to Renault’s lack of patience over his recruitment plans as a symptom of the underlying issues.
When he joined Alpine 18 months ago, he discovered various areas where the Enstone team lacked knowledge. Filling those gaps by recruiting employees from competing teams, who are typically under long-term contracts and on gardening leave, requires significant time in advance.
Esteban Ocon, Alpine A523
Photo by: Alpine
Szafnauer stated that Renault’s insufficient comprehension of the procedure hindered his ability to effectively communicate that message to his superiors.
Certain areas within the organization have individuals with a very basic skill level. This is primarily due to the fact that these individuals are recent college graduates, rather than someone with extensive experience spanning 25 years.
“It was in those areas that I started to recruit, but the best in Formula 1 are usually on long-term contracts, at least three years.
I managed to persuade a significant number of individuals in the regions that required strengthening. However, regrettably, their arrival is scheduled for different timeframes: some in the fall of ’23, most in the middle of ’24, and a few in 2025. This is precisely what I attempt to clarify: “Be aware, it’s imminent, and occasionally we must temporarily regress to ultimately progress.”
“They simply lacked comprehension. Whether it was due to impatience or emotion, they were clearly devoid of understanding. Regrettably, that is the essential requirement, and it is what they will eventually realize.”
Szafnauer expressed that the Renault group’s interference surpassed any previous instances he had witnessed. He noted that several departments reported to his superiors rather than directly to him.
He clarified that the parent company desired extensive control over various aspects of the racing team, surpassing anything he had witnessed previously.
“The commercial area, the marketing area, HR, finance, communication, all that stuff reported not to me but around me, to somebody else in the bigger organisation, and they all act like a Navy, and we have to be pirates in order to win.
“I cannot reword”
“If it requires a span of two weeks, perhaps the individual we were considering for employment has chosen another opportunity. We must embrace our adventurous spirit and become pirates.”
SiriusXM’s full Szafnauer interview is aired on Thursday night at 6pm ET on Cars & Culture with Jason Stein, on SiriusXM Business Radio channel 132.