Alpine team principal Otmar Szafnauer believes it can continue to outperform Formula 1 rivals Aston Martin when Fernando Alonso switches to the Silverstone-based outfit next year.
Aston Martin announced last week it had signed Alonso on a multi-year deal to replace four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel when he retires at the end of the season.
Alonso had been expected to re-sign with Alpine but turned down a fresh contract as it didn’t meet his demands, opting instead of accept Aston Martin’s offer.
Both teams have had a stark contrast in terms of their performances this season, with Alpine sitting fourth in the constructors’ championship ahead of McLaren, while Aston Martin is second-bottom after a difficult year so far.
Szafnauer was previously team principal at Aston Martin before joining Alpine at the start of this year, and while he admits it is “hard to predict the future”, he is confident Alpine will remain ahead of his old team in the long term.
“I know both teams well,” Szafnauer said, as quoted by Motorsport.com. “I think I know [them], because I spent 12 years at the other team, better than I know all the individuals here just yet.
“And I know since I’ve left in December, they’ve hired some more people, some of which I was a part of recruiting, including Dan Fallows, and Eric Blandin from Mercedes. So I know what they’re trying to do.
“And I know that the people that are there, and I know this team here, and both teams have great potential.
“But as we sit here today, this team is performing at a much higher level. It’s hard to predict the future, but in the near future, for sure this team will continue to perform at that level, if not better.”
Aston Martin’s headhunting of key technical people from rival outfits has been well publicised, as team owner Lawrence Stroll hopes to build the British car manufacturer into title contenders.
Szafnauer revealed that Alpine has its own scheme in place to continue expanding its team further, underlying his belief that the Enstone squad can fight at the front of the grid in the coming years.
“We have an internal programme called Mountain Climber, and that’s to hire an additional 75 people in strategic areas that will help improve the capabilities of this team,” he said.
“And along with the 75 people, there’s also tools that we are improving now, some simulation tools, a new simulator, expanded capacity in manufacturing, some upgrades to our wind tunnel, all with the focus on being able to win in 100 races.
“So those things are still happening here. And they’re happening fast. We’re already at a level of 850 people here.
“So I am confident that we can outdo the team that Fernando is going to, in the time period that he will be there.”