Otmar Szafnauer: Where is the Ex-Alpine Team Principal Now?

As a 26-year veteran in the world of Formula One (F1) racing, Romanian-American engineer Otmar Marin Szafnauer truly achieved wonders before his dreams were all sadly crumbled apart. The truth is this Wayne State University Electrical Engineering plus University of Detroit-Mercy Business/Finance graduate had kickstarted his career back in 1986, just to quickly rise the ranks. His first job was actually at Ford Motors, where he was appointed Prograemms Manager despite his young age — merely 22 — owing to the potential he displayed at every step of the way.

According to reports, this is how Otmar really got into racing, driving him to enroll at the Jim Russell Racing Driver School before starting to even participate in the sport via Formula Ford in 1991. It thus comes as no surprise he then jumped at the opportunity to become British American Racing’s Operations Director for F1 in 1998, just to later find himself serving as Honda’s Vice President. He did have brief, unsuccessful discussions with Jaguar during this period too, yet it was his time at Force India (starting in 2009) that really put him on the international map as an F1 genius.

Otmar indeed played a significant role in this latter team’s improved performance as the years passed by and hence got to stay with them as they were sold in 2019 to become Aston Martin in 2021. Though little did anyone know at the time he’d part ways with his crew in January 2022 to join Renault’s BWT Alpine F1 as Team Principal in February, only to be harshly ousted mid-season in 2023. He honestly had two great drivers under his command despite their own personal issues, but two consecutive DNFs were simply unforgivable, per Netflix’s ‘Formula 1: Drive to Survive’ season 6.

Otmar Szafnauer is Now Thriving as an Engineering Entrepreneur and Traveler

Otmar was let go by Alpine F1 following the 2023 Belgian Grand Prix held in July, just to be replaced by fellow engineer Bruno Famini — he was also appointed Alpine Motorsports’ Vice President. Therefore, yes, the former has since publicly spoken up against parent company Renault, asserting he was hired with the grace of 5 years to turn things around but was fired upon a mere 1½. He said, “I think the senior management at Renault, the CEO, Luca de Meo, wants, as everyone does in Formula 1, wants success instantly and unfortunately, that’s not how it works in Formula 1.”

“So, you know, I pointed out to him that it takes time and the process of doing it, what’s required, and having raced for 34 years and 26 years of it in Formula 1, I think I speak with a degree of experience when I say this is what it takes to turn a team around,” Otmar continued, telling SiriusXM’s ‘Cars & Culture with Jason Stein.’ “And they wanted to do it faster than is possible and I just, you know, I couldn’t agree to an unrealistic timeline because if you do that, it’s only a matter of time and everyone gets frustrated, so I laid out a very realistic and possible plan and I think they wanted to shortcut that plan with somebody else.”

Otmar also expressed, “The parent company wanted to have a lot of control in a lot of areas of the racing team. More than I’ve ever seen before. You know, 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 organization. “If you say all else equal—the cars equal, the drivers are equal, the power treads equal, your knowledge of the tires is equal—but what isn’t equal is the fact that a Mercedes or a Red Bull have HR, finance… all the commercial aspects and communication reporting to [them] and we don’t, guess who’s gonna win?”

Coming to Otmar’s current standing, from what we can tell, this Soft Pauer F1 timing and track positioning app founder (established in 2009) has since launched another app called EventR. This creative program actually lives up to its title by helping users plan their events as well as travels in the most cost-effective and practical manner, meaning it helps them save in every way. “Supercharge your travel” is this app’s motto, and it does appear as if this UK-based family man was inspired for it through his own adventures across the world with loved ones, as indicated on his social media platforms.

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