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Formula 1: what does the team boss-off mean for Vettel?

The rumor persisted, now the cat is finally out of the bag: Team boss Otmar Szafnauer (57) is leaving Aston Martin. The British Formula 1 team confirmed this on Wednesday. On the other hand, there are still many other questions open – also for Aston Martin top driver Sebastian Vettel (34).

AUTO BILD learned: The Heppenheimer himself did not know until the end of the season whether Szafnauer was staying or not. Until recently, the American behaved normally, and even gave a speech at the final team dinner. “I assume that we have done a good job for 2022,” he also said in a recent interview.

Clear conditions have only now been ensured, and rumors have been circulating about the departure of the American for months, also internally. In the spring, Radio Paddock reported after the first disappointing results of the green racer that team owner Lawrence Stroll was dissatisfied with the work of his team boss . He, in turn, complained about the excessive dependence on Mercedes, which resulted from the “pink copy” of the 2019 Silver Arrow for 2020 and flopped in 2021 due to new rules.
When Stroll installed ex-McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh as managing director of the Aston Martin F1 group and thus Szafnauer’s boss in the summer, it was clear to most observers: This is the end of the shirt-sleeved team boss who is the complete opposite of the aloof Ron Dennis Zöglings Whitmarsh represents. A little later, Szafnauer was associated with a move to Alpine. This is where his particular strengths should come into play again: leading a team with an efficient working method to the front midfield.
Explosive for his ex-team: Already in 2021 Alpine (fifth) with Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon was one of Aston Martin’s greatest opponents (seventh), and had almost twice as many points as the British in the constructors’ championship.

Szafnauer is considered a close confidante of Sebastian Vettel.

This is a major blow for Sebastian Vettel. Only one reason: Szafnauer is considered a close confidante of the German, brought him to Aston Martin. Whitmarsh, on the other hand, was always Vettel’s opponent during his time at McLaren, even criticizing him as a “crash kid” after an accident with Jenson Button (McLaren) in Spa 2010.

It is unclear whether Whitmarsh will now also take on the role of team boss at Aston Martin in addition to his role as Group CEO. Until a successor is found, a group of leading engineers will lead the team, said Aston Martin. This also includes head of technology Andy Green. In view of the rule revolution, which will bring completely new cars in 2022, these are not good prerequisites – especially since a new plant including a new simulator is also being built on the factory site at the same time.

Fits into the difficult picture: Vettel was cautious with his outlook at the end of the 2021 season in an interview with ABMS. “The motivation is there, we try to improve together and the team tries to turn everything that is possible,” he said. “The new rules in 2022 offer a great opportunity. But we also have to remain realistic and not talk about the role of favorites, but have to see how good our car is. “

Alone: ​​The development around the top of the team could also influence Vettel’s own future. As in the previous year, his contract must be renewed for 2023. Insiders suspect that the Hessian could end his career if the success fails again this year.

Vettel also remains vague on this topic: “Of course you sometimes ask yourself the question of meaning. I would be lying if I said that the thought hadn’t crossed my mind yet … If I can no longer feel the drive and ambition and just stick to it to convey messages or to increase my account balance, it would be betrayal in the generation that is still to come and live this dream. … But the fire is still burning. “

The sentence fell when Szafnauer was still team principal at Aston Martin.

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