Szafnauer, Permane and Fry leave Alpine as big clearout continues

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It’s been a turbulent couple of years for the Enstone-based team on the management and driver side, and there’s more changes afoot as two big names are leaving the team after the Belgian Grand Prix this weekend.

Team principal Otmar Szafnauer and sporting director Alan Permane are the latest casualties of the upheaval going on behind the scenes.

Just last week, the brutally honest Laurent Rossi was removed as CEO and replaced by Philippe Krief.

Szafnauer was officially appointed Alpine Team principal in February last year. Esteban Ocon’s podium at the Monaco Grand Prix is the only time an Alpine driver has stood on the podium during his tenure.

There was also the messy contract situation involving Oscar Piastri. The Australian ultimately was proven right, and the team also lost Fernando Alonso to Aston Martin.

At the Hungarian Grand Prix last Sunday, he was confident that he would be given time in the position when speaking in his post-race written media session.

“You’ve got to remember that Laurent is doing special projects now. Yes, he did hire me, but Luca also hired me, and it was Luca de Meo who ultimately sat down with me and convinced me to join his project.

“And the project was the Alpine project with the 100-race plan, and I think we are 30-something races into that. So we still have some 60-odd races to go, and that is another three years to go to start winning.”

Photo Credit: Alpine F1 Team

Perhaps the biggest surprise is the exit of Alan Permane. The Brit has been with the team since 1989. He was race engineer for 9 years from 1997 to 2006 for the likes of Jarno Trulli and Giancarlo Fisichella. That role would lead to him becoming the team’s Chief Race Engineer.

Since 2012, he has been the team’s sporting director. Permane was part of the team that won a combined Drivers’ Championships with Michael Schumacher and Fernando Alonso.

Photo credit: BWT Alpine F1 Team

According to Alpine, “Bruno Famin, VP, Alpine Motorsports, will assume the role of Interim Team Principal of BWT Alpine F1 Team from the Dutch Grand Prix onwards. Current Alpine Academy Director Julian Rouse is named Interim Sporting Director, with Matt Harman leading the technical team at Enstone. Both Julian and Matt will report to Bruno Famin.”

Another F1 stalwart, Pat Fry, has also left the team. The British engineer has joined Williams Racing as chief technical director.

Fry was at McLaren for 17 years from 1993-2010. They won three Drivers’ Championships and one Constructors’ Championship during his time at the team. He was also race engineer to David Coulthard for 4 years during a very successful period for the Woking-based squad.

The Brit has also had spells at Benetton, Ferrari and Manor Racing. Fry spent almost 4 years at Renault/Alpine before today’s announcement that he would be joining Williams.

James Vowles, Team Principal, Williams Racing: “On behalf of all at Williams Racing, I’m delighted to be welcoming Pat. His knowledge and experience will further strengthen the team’s technical capabilities and pursuit of excellence as we build the next chapter of Williams. Pat has been a core part of winning teams throughout his career, he is one of the most respected experts in our industry and I’m excited to begin work with him when he joins in November.”

Pat Fry, Chief Technical Officer, Williams Racing: “I am thrilled to be joining Williams Racing as Chief Technical Officer. The team has a rich heritage in Formula 1, and I am excited to contribute to its future success. I believe in the team’s potential and, together, we will strive for excellence on and off the track.”

Photo credit: Williams Racing