Rossi: 'Overachiever' Szafnauer knows what it takes to build a team

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Alpine chief executive Laurent Rossi believes Otmar Szafnauer has the skills and the track record to fill an all-encompassing role at the French outfit that will lead it up the grid.

Szafnauer's move to Enstone was an open secret since the end of last season and a question of when rather than if, especially in the wake of his exit from Aston Martin earlier this year.

At the helm of Force India and its Racing Point iteration, Szafnauer built his reputation as a diligent manager who blends his savvy expertise with a keen sense of productivity

Over the years, the American has acquired the reputation has a diligent manager who blends his expertise and experience with a keen ability to extract the most from a F1 operation, both financially and in terms of performance.

Those qualities weren't lost on Alpine's Rossi who, after conducting his due diligence, designated the American as the right candidate to fulfil the role of team leader in place of Alpine's somewhat discordant triumvirate composed of Rossi, former executive director Marcin Budkowski and racing director Davide Brivio.

The key word for Rossi as he envisaged the team's future management structure was "streamlining".

"The trio [of leaders] we had last year all brought their own skills," Rossi told "Otmar cuts across those three.

"It's an overlap between us three. A Team Principal does the bonding between the sides.

"So it's certainly easier for me to streamline because I now have one person that is bringing those skills to the table and people underneath can now fully express their own strength in their own disciplines."

As a relative newcomer to Formula 1, Rossi admits he didn't have much inside knowledge of Szafnauer's skills, but as a fan of the sport, he certainly knew who the American was and what had been his achievements.

"I have not spent nearly enough time with [Otmar] because I’ve not been in Formula 1 for 20 years," he said. "That said, I’ve followed him and many others as a fan.

"I know that Otmar did very well with Force India, Racing Point and then Aston, especially at the very beginning given the very limited means he had.

"He arguably overperformed, overachieved with limited budget and managed to get Racing Point/Force India in fourth position and to get wins and podiums.

"He knows what it takes to build a team. He knows how to get there, so that's quite important. He is a teambuilder and he is a very good person. He will bring the gel that we need, that bonding."

Rossi acknowledges that Alpine's initial management structure which did away with a dedicated team principal, and which was put in place at the time as a pressing solution, wasn't the right configuration to push the team forward.

"We went through the season, we never made a fool of ourselves, it was just fine," he said. "But now was it the right structure to move forward and take the team to the next level?

"The team has been plateauing and rather was in almost a negative slope. Fourth in 2018, fifth in 2019, and 2020.

"So it was certainly reaching a good level of operation as best of the rest. But it was not what was needed for the next challenges.

"And this is where I decided that, to get there we need to reinforce the team, I can go back to a structure more conventional."

Rossi says that once he touched base and engaged with Szafnauer, the two men "converged" very quickly.

"As the season unfolded, it was clear for me that we needed the profile of a Team Principal and he became free," said the French engineer.

"Obviously I started intensifying my connections to him, so yes, there was way more discussions between us in 2022 than there were in 2021.

"We converged very quickly towards the possibility of him joining and I’m very glad he’s now joined the team."

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