Otmar Szafnauer managed Force India quite successfully, which first changed its name to Racing Point and then became Aston Martin. But this spring, he took over Alpine F1, Renault’s factory team, and in an interview with the Spanish newspaper AS spoke about the beginning of work in this post, and also drew a comparison between Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso.
Q: When did you start working for Alpine?
Otmar Safnauer: Third of March.
Question: How did you start and what have you already done?
Otmar Safnauer: I started by trying to remember the names of all the employees. But I haven’t been able to finish the job yet. I already know everyone who works in the racing team, but there are 835 people in the team. It is necessary to understand the structure of the organization, its methods of work, in order to achieve the first improvements earlier than it can be expected.
Q: Tell us about your first impressions at the Alpine base in Enstone and the engine division in Weary?
Otmar Safnauer: Everything I saw was truly impressive. State-of-the-art infrastructure, wind tunnel, CFD division, bench test equipment, research department… All in all very good. But if we talk about equipment, then it requires certain improvements, since some little things are still missing.
Question: Do you have a plan for the modernization of the machine?
Otmar Safnauer: While we are at the stage of accumulation of information, because we need to make sure that the results of research in the wind tunnel correspond to what we see on the track. In parallel, the team is preparing technical innovations, we plan to implement them at all races.
Something was already presented in Melbourne, and we are preparing a significant set of updates for Imola. We are working on several programs, including trying to reduce the weight of the machine.
Q: What are the results of Alpine this year can be considered good?
Otmar Safnauer: It’s not just about the results: first of all, I prefer to achieve stability during the season as a whole. We race to win, but if success comes unexpectedly and the team is unstable, it means that we need to work on increasing the average level of results that the team shows throughout the year.
Last year, the Alpine car was sixth fastest, but thanks to the efforts of the riders, the team finished 5th in the Constructors’ Championship. This year we can take a step forward: if our car is the fifth fastest, and the team can take 4th place, it will be great.
Q: What can you say about Fernando Alonso?
Otmar Safnauer: This is my first time working with him, and I like that he constantly strives for high results, requires the team to be more actively engaged in the modernization of the car, but also demands a lot from himself and from the people who surround him. He is very talented and still wants to win.
In qualifying, Fernando can get the car to speed faster than any other driver I’ve ever worked with. This is a special gift that not everyone has. He also races very well, and together with Esteban Okon, a younger driver, they make a great duo.
Q: Last year you worked with Sebastian Vettel – is it possible to somehow compare them?
Otmar Safnauer: In some ways they are very similar. They are different people, but they make the same demands on the team in pursuit of higher speeds, and their methods of work are approximately the same. I think Sebastian provides the team with more detailed information about the operation of the machine, and Fernando focuses on those aspects that can immediately provide the greatest possible advantage. He immediately starts with the main thing.
There are some differences, but they have the same thirst for victory and the desire to constantly improve results.
Question: When Fernando says that he wants to drive in Formula 1 for another two or three years, does he mean that he would like to drive for Alpine?
Otmar Safnauer: Of course, I don’t know what exactly he means, but I hope that Fernando is talking about our team. We consider him a valuable asset, he helps us a lot to show good results on the track. He currently drives for Alpine F1 and all future decisions will be made in July or August.
Source: Формула 1 на F1News.ru by www.f1news.ru.
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