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Cyril Abiteboul set to return to Formula 1? Possibility as Otmar Szafnauer has left Aston Martin

Janmeyjay Shukla

Cyril Abiteboul set to return to Formula 1? Possibility as Otmar Szafnauer has left Aston Martin

Aston Martin confirmed on Wednesday that Otmar Szafnauer had stepped down as team principal and CEO of the team.

Otmar Szafnauer has been part of the Aston Martin team for the past 12 years. He has seen all the highs and lows of the team with the change in identity. Andrew Green, Aston Martin’s chief technical officer, is due to take over as Interim team principal.

Who is Otmar Szafnauer?

The Romanian born who currently resides in Detroit studied Business and Finance at the University of Detroit. His F1 career began when he was named Operations Director at British American Racing during the team’s F1 run.

When Honda came calling, he jumped at the chance and became their vice president of racing development. He developed Soft Pauer after leaving Honda in 2008. Later in June 2009, he developed the official Formula One Timing and Track Positioning Application for the iPhone.

Szafnauer joined Force India in October 2009 and was a key contributor to the team’s improving performance. Under his leadership, the team finished seventh in 2010 and sixth in 2011-2014. He led the team into the top five in 2015 and reached the team’s best finish of fourth in 2016 and 2017.

Alpine knocking on the door

Szafnauer had long been expected to quit Aston Martin despite denying it. Earlier, he had stated that he had “no intention.” However, back in November, it seemed like he was on his way to join the rival Alpine team in a senior role.

Aston Martin confirmed on Wednesday that Szafnauer had stepped down as team principal and CEO of the team.

“Otmar Szafnauer has left the Company. His role at Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One Team will be managed within the leadership team until a replacement is appointed,” the statement reads.

“We would like to thank him for the service he provided to the team over the past 12 years. We wish him well for the future as he will undoubtedly take on new challenges.”

“Fortunately, we are led and managed by a strong group of individuals, and we are comfortable to take a little time to explore options before announcing a new team structure.”

Also Read: Zak Brown highlights his favorite moments from the path-breakingly popular 2021 F1 season

Possible Fallout between Szafnauer and Whitmarsh

Lawrence Stroll (owner of the Aston Martin F1 team) hired Martin Whitmarsh, the former CEO of McLaren in October 2021. His role was to lead the new Aston Martin Performance Technologies umbrella business, which included the F1 team.

As a result, Whitmarsh became the most senior person in the organization, behind Stroll but above Szafnauer. This prompted speculation that it would conflict with Szafnauer’s responsibilities.

“My role is not changing” – Aston Martin team principal Otmar Szafnauer informed the media upon the arrival of Whitemarsh back in October 2021.

Also Read: Alpine boss comments on great possibilities of coming to the top three of the constructor’s championship

However, former F1 driver Ralf Schumacher predicted that the duo in the hierarchy would not work stating, “when Stroll bought the team, he brought in a new movement.”

“But I’ve said it before, you can’t make a tiger out of a cow overnight. There is just too much unrest there. And in my opinion, the Martin Whitmarsh and Otmar Szafnauer duo would not work at all.”

Promotion for Whitmarsh or return of Cyril Abiteboul?

Cyril Abiteboul worked with motorsport engineering firm Mecachrome as an advisor in 2021. Abiteboul seems to be on the radar of Lawrence Stroll. With his experience and capabilities, he could turn out to be the right fit for the new F1 era in Aston Martin.

Although there has never been a suggestion from Aston Martin that Whitmarsh would take direct leadership of the F1 team, it looks for certain that he will be promoted to become the new Team Principal in 2022 and beyond.

About the author

Janmeyjay Shukla

Janmeyjay Shukla


Janmeyjay Shukla is an artist who contributes his expressions through words as an F1 writer and editor at The SportsRush. He is an F1 historian who has been watching the sport since he was a baby. Passed on from generation to generation, he has seen the prime of Michael Schumacher to the rise of Max Verstappen. A Mercedes fan from the days of the Brawn GP era, the sport runs in his blood. Besides Formula One, Janmeyjay is a Marketing Head and a musician who loves to sing and play Rock & Pop songs on guitar. His love for sports will never die as he is a loyal Liverpool Football Club fan as well!

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