Szafnauer became team boss of Force India in 2009 and remained with the team when it was renamed Racing Point in 2019 and again when it became Aston Martin in 2021. In early 2022, he swapped Aston Martin for Alpine to take up the position of team boss there. It certainly wasn't a smooth term: although Alpine managed to finish fourth among constructors under his leadership, he was also team boss during the period when Fernando Alonso unexpectedly left the team and a soap opera surrounding Oscar Piastri 's contract ensued.
New balance of power in 2023
In 2023, Alpine seems to have lost a lot of ground. Pierre Gasly qualified last in the first race, although he managed to make up some ground in the race itself and gather two points. Esteban Ocon stopped his car early due to an engine problem and a record number of time penalties in one race. On the other hand, Aston Martin actually made great strides and Alonso even managed to secure a podium in the first race. Szafnauer was asked to compare Alpine's development with Aston Martin's.
"To be honest, it was always a good and efficient team," Szafnauer said. "Congratulations to them. But Force India was exactly the same team in 2014, we finished fourth and we had a lot of race pace. Aston has made huge progress and we need to do the same."
'Age catches up with all of us'
Szafnauer has nothing but praise for his former driver Alonso, although he also added a comment about the Spaniard's age. "He is hugely motivated, he lives for this. Lance was injured and it seems Fernando has been fighting very hard for positions. At some point age catches up with all of us, although I have no idea when that will happen to him."