The Alpine team boss returns to covertly charge the British team, which he managed during the time when Vijay Mallya controlled the team, ensuring that Aston Martin is at the same point where Force India launched the hybrid era in 2014.

There is no doubt that now the performance of Aston Martin, and in particular of Fernando Alonso, has been the great story of this Bahrain Grand Prix, notably surpassing Red Bull’s military parade and the undisputed triumph of Max Verstappen in the national and international press. The sudden appearance of the British team not only caught top teams like Mercedes or Ferrari off guard, but also the teams that hoped to be able to fight with them.

Especially, Alpine occupies a delicate position in all this, being the team that failed to properly manage the departure of Alonso last season amidst a maremagnum of indecisions, cross-deals and constant mechanical breakdowns. the figure of otmar szafnauerrecently considered one of the best sports managers on the grid, he was especially harmed throughout this process, and his usual statements to the Spanish driver, Oscar Piastri or other teams only served to fan the flames.

“Force India in 2014 was exactly the same as Aston Martin”

Alpine’s sporting director, who had already questioned Alonso’s medium and long-term prospects this weekend due to his age, didn’t miss the opportunity to compare Aston Martin’s current situation with one of the profitable past eras of ‘Team Silverstone’. Specifically, he pointed to the start of the turbo era in 2014, where Force India had a great start to the season with Szafnauer at the helm, reaching multiple top 5 aided by the immense power of the Mercedes engines

“They took a step forward compared to last year, I congratulate them for that. Though, to be fair to them, they have always been a good and efficient teamsaid Szafnauer. “Congratulations to them, but I think Force India in 2014 was exactly the same and in the same relative position, conquering podiums. I think Pérez qualified fifth in 2014 and had a very good race pace”, he added, referring to a GP in Bahrain in which the Mexican managed to get on the podium after the two Mercedes, with his teammate Nico Hülkenberg in the lead. fifth position.

Past successes, modern feuds

Some statements that seem more a poison dart towards the green formation within real flattery, as Force India ended up dropping that year to sixth place in the constructors category. A year, in global terms, not very decent when compared to the fourth places obtained in 2016 and 2017, or with the success of 2020 where only a 15-point penalty for using Mercedes’ brake cooling ducts deprived them of third place at the end.

In addition to the adventures of his former team, Szafnauer was convinced that Alpine still can and should enter the fight for the top four of the championship: «I believe, we still have to do it. I don’t remember where we were last year in the first race, but it was probably a similar position. Last year Alfa beat us here, maybe even Haas. Aston did not, and McLaren was close. Although they are different competitors, we have to do what we did last year, finish fourth and approach the top three »

“What we have to look at is how close we are to pole compared to last year, how close we were in race pace and where we could have gotten if we didn’t have our operational problems», he added, referring to the chain of errors that led to the multiple sanctions applied to Esteban Ocon. “Was it better than last year or not? What we have to do every year is cut ground. Aston has made big improvements and we need to achieve those too.».

“This was not a normal race for us, these operational errors don’t happen regularly. If we had run a normal race starting from ninth place, I think Lance was right in front of us.. The question I ask myself is; if we had done a normal race, could we beat them? I don’t know yet but we have to reflect on this and be better. It’s not where we want to be, but I think we’re capable of doing better.”