Tagged in: silverstone

Otmar Szafnauer departs as Aston Martin F1 boss

Otmar Szafnauer, chief executive officer and team principal of the Aston Martin Formula One team announced his departure on Wednesday.

The Silverstone-based team, owned by Canadian billionaire Lawrence Stroll, said in a statement that a leadership team would take over until a replacement was appointed.

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

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“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. The focus of the team is currently on preparing the most competitive car possible for the start of the 2022 season,” the statement added.

The Romanian-American engineer joined the team in 2009 when it was Force India, and in 2018 Szafnauer was made team principal when the Stroll consortium took ownership and rebranded to Racing Point.

The team changed to its latest guise as Aston Martin in 2021, when Stroll bought a 16.7% stake in the British sports car manufacturer. Stroll has since appointed former McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh as CEO of Aston Martin Performance Technologies, a role that was senior to Szafnauer’s and oversees the running of the F1 team.

Szafnauer has been linked with a move to rivals Alpine in late 2021, however he described early reports as “pure media speculation” when asked at the Brazilian Grand Prix in November.

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Silverstone agrees terms with F1 for races

Formula One and Silverstone have agreed terms for two races without spectators at the circuit this season, subject to government approval, the track’s managing director Stuart Pringle said on Friday.

The British Grand Prix, a home race for Mercedes’ six times world champion Lewis Hamilton as well as seven of the 10 teams, is planned for July 19 but that could change as the sport redraws a calendar ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic.

F1 is seeking to make up the numbers after three races, including this month’s traditional Monaco showcase, were cancelled and seven others postponed.

More are also looking unlikely to happen due to travel controls and measures to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

“We’re not talking dates because F1 are still trying to knit their calendar together and there seems to be a certain amount of flexibility,” Pringle told Reuters.

He said both parties were happy with the settlement, without giving details. Media reports earlier in the week had suggested the sides were arguing over money, with the hosting fee waived but Silverstone unable to sell tickets and still seeking a payment to cover costs.

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The British Grand Prix was the best attended race on the calendar last year, with 351,000 people over the three days and 141,000 on race Sunday.

The races would be back-to-back at the circuit that is celebrating the 70th anniversary of hosting the first Formula One world championship race.

Pringle stated there was still no presumption that any race would happen, however.

The British government has said it plans to announce a quarantine period for most people arriving from abroad, which could make F1’s plans for Silverstone almost impossible unless an exemption is granted to teams.

The sport is planning to start the season with two races in Austria in early July, also behind closed doors and in carefully controlled medical conditions with teams flying in on charter flights and staying isolated. “It is very much subject to government approval. If the government aren’t happy, it won’t happen,” Pringle said of the Silverstone races.

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