Szafnauer was named Team Principal of the Anglo-French squad in February, following his abrupt departure from Aston Martin, which was confirmed on January 5 of this year – and after a restructuring at Alpine that saw Marcin Budkowski step down as Executive Director, while four-time champion Alain Prost stepped down as Non-Executive Director.
His mission now is to carry out Alpine CEO Laurent Rossi's highly publicised 100-race plan, published in October of last year, to convert Alpine into serial podium finishers, victors, and, eventually, champions.
However, Szafnauer is still getting "the lay of the land" as he tells in an interview with Greg Stuart.
Szafnauer jokes, "I'm getting more and more settled… the blue suits me, it matches my eyes! I'm getting to know the different people here, the personalities and how the team works, the interactions of the different groups."
He adds, “It will take time, like anything; it's a big team, 800-plus people, so it takes time to learn who everybody is, how they interact and how we go about things. But it's an important part of getting to be part of the team. The first step in team-building. You have to get a lay of the land to have a good understanding,” adds Szafnauer.
He continues, "If people come and ask me for decisions or advice or direction, if you don't have a good lay of the land, the decisions, the advice, the directions that you point people in, might not be the right thing. You have to have a deep understanding before you make critical decisions. And I've always said that."
He concludes, "There are a lot of people that come into jobs, not just in Formula 1 but at senior levels, and just make change for the sake of change, so that they can show they're doing something. But if that's the case, the change you make could be in the wrong direction. So you have to have a good understanding before.”
Alpine's new role is made more difficult by the fact that the company is split between its UK production in Enstone and its French power unit in Viry-Chatillon, near Paris. And, while Szafnauer confesses that his French is "non-existent" (he is proficient in German and Romanian), establishing a rapport with Viry and new engine manager Bruno Famin will be critical to his orientation.